Skip to main content

Full text of "Latin Quarter = Scènes de la vie de Bohème"

See other formats


:0 
= [>- 

?CD 

CNJ 





This book belongs to 

THE LIBRARY 



VICTORIA UNIVERSITY 

Toronto 5, Canada 



FRENCH NOVELS 

OF THE NINETEENTH 
CENTURY 



THE LATIN QUARTER 

("Scenes de la Vie de Boheme") 




FRENCH NOVELS 

OF THE NINETEENTH 
CENTURY 

^ 

Edited by A. R. WALLER, 
with Preface to each Volume 
by ARTHUR SYMONS, and 
frontispiece in photogravure 

Crown Svo 
Cloth, 35. 6d. net each 

SALAMMBO 

BY GUSTAVE FLAUBERT 
Translated by J. W. MATTHEWS 

THE LATIN QUARTER 

By HENRY MURGER 

Translated by ELLEN MARRIAGE 

and JOHN SELWYN 



LONDON: GRANT RICHARDS 




//- '// rt/. V// rger. 



HENRY MURGER 
THE 

LATIN QUARTER 

("Scenes de Ja Vie de Boheme") 



Translated by 
ELLEN MARRIAGE 

AND 

JOHN SELWYN 

With an Introduction by 
ARTHUR SYMONS 



LONDON 

GRANT RICHARDS 
1901 



PZ 



ALL RIGHTS RESERVED 




PLYMOUTH 
BRENDON AND SON 



CONTENTS 



PAGE 

INTRODUCTION . . vii 

PREFACE . . ... xiv 

I. How THE BROTHERHOOD CAME TOGETHER . i 

II. A MESSENGER OF PROVIDENCE . 43 

III. LENTEN LOVES . . 53 

IV. ALI RODOLPHE, OR, THE INVOLUNTARY TURK 65 

V. CHARLEMAGNE'S CROWN-PIECE . . . 76 

VI. MADEMOISELLE MUSETTE . 88 

VII. FLOODS OF PACTOLUS . . . . 98 

VIII. WHAT A CROWN-PIECE COSTS . . .113 

IX. POLAR VIOLETS . . . , . 125 

X. THE CAPE OF STORMS . . . .136 

XI. A CAFE IN BOHEMIA . . . . 147 

XII. A RECEPTION IN BOHEMIA . . . 159 

XIII. THE HOUSE-WARMING . . . . 185 

XIV. MADEMOISELLE MIMI . . . . 196 
XV. DONEC GRATUS ... . . . . 220 

XVI. "THE PASSAGE OF THE RED SEA" . . 232 

XVII. THE TOILETTE OF THE GRACES . . 243 
v 



Contents 

PAGE 

XVIII. FRANCINE'S MUFF . . . . 265 

XIX. MUSETTE'S WHIMS . . . 295 

XX. MIMI HAS FEATHERS . . . . 324 

XXI. ROMEO AND JULIET . . . 345 

XXII. EPILOGUE TO THE LOVES OF RODOLPHE AND 

MADEMOISELLE MIMI . ... 357 / 

XXIII. YOUTH COMES BUT ONCE . . 39 

APPENDIX . . . 393 



INTRODUCTION 



BOHEMIA," says Murger, "is the preface to 
the Academy, the hospital, or the Morgue." 
Murger died in a hospital, " ce caravanserail des 
douleurs humaines," as he called it; and if he did 
not reach the Academy on his way there, he has 
had to suffer the praise of Academicians ; he has 
become a kind of classic in neglige. His Scenes de 
la Vie de Boheme sum up an epoch, give us the 
map of a country : it is the Bohemia of the Latin 
Quarter, as it existed at the Romantic epoch. And 
it is also the eternal Bohemia, a country where 
people love lightly and sincerely, weep and laugh 
freely, are really hungry, really have their ambitions, 
and at times die of all these maladies. It is the 
gayest and most melancholy country in the world. 
Not to have visited it is to have made the grand tour 
for nothing. To have lived there too long is to 
find all the rest of the world an exile. But in 
Murger's pages, perhaps, after all, you will see more 
of the country than anything less than a lifetime 
spent in it will show you. 

Murger has his place in the Romantic movement, 
coming into it by a side door, holding himself a 



Introduction 

little aloof in the company, and supplying an in- 
structive comment on it. He shows us, in his 
poets and painters and musicians, the raw material 
of Romantics, with a sympathetic mockery ; and he 
introduces us to a lively part of the audience which 
the Romantics gathered about them. It is only 
with Alfred de Musset that he finds himself quite at 
home. Musette, he said, is Bernerette's younger 
sister. 

The Bohemians of Murger are like children play- 
ing at life with all the gay seriousness of children. 
They have never unlearnt the child's gesture of 
grasping at any shining thing, the vehemence of 
his desire for the moon, the irrational tempest 
of his tears or of his mirth, the regardlessness of 
anything but the desire of the moment. They 
realise very keenly that I am I, they can admit 
frankly that you are you, when you cross their path ; 
but nothing has ever been able to teach them, any 
more than the child in the nurse's arms can be 
taught, that there exists a vague and vast ab- 
straction, neither you nor I, but made up of infinite 
identities that have allowed themselves to be 
swallowed up for one another's benefit : the in- 
tangible, inexplicable monster that we call Society. 
Conscious of something against them in the world, 
they invent arbitrary nicknames : the Bourgeois, the 
Philistines, the Jews. They have rarely any desire 
to revolt ; they ask only to be allowed to go their 
own way, on their own terms of logical enjoyment 
viii 



Introduction 






and material impossibility. If talent, or the desire 
of talent, will bring in money of itself, if the 
winter will not freeze them when there is no fire 
in the grate, if Mimi will be content with a garret 
on the fifth floor, they have little to ask. After all, 
comfort is a relative term, and Murger tells us of an 
" amateur Bohemian" who, with ^400 a year to 
live on, chose to let himself be buried in a pauper's 
grave. He had found comfort, of a kind, no doubt, 
in Bohemia. 

In Murger's picture of Bohemia, as Paul de Saint- 
Victor has noted, with partial truth, "the flames of 
the stake are changed into fireworks." In his own 
summing up, at the end of the Preface to the Scenes 
de la Vie de Boheme, he speaks of that " delightful 
and terrible life, which boasts its conquerors and its 
martyrs, on which no one should enter unless he 
has made up his mind beforehand to submit to the 
ruthless law: Vce Victis!"\ there is his "axiom": 
" Unknown Bohemia is not a thoroughfare, it is a 
blind alley"; the confession of his dedicatory verses : 

" Car cette route si belle 
Quand je fis mes premiers pas, 
Maintenant je la vois telle, 
Telle qu'elle existe, helas ! 

" Et debout sur le rivage, 
Les pieds mouilles par le flot, 
Ami, c'est d'apres I'orage 
Que j'ai trace" mon tableau." 

He could moralise after the event ; there is pathos, 



Introduction 

very touching in its way, in his book ; but the 
peculiar value of what he has to tell us of Bohemia 
is that it is told by a native of the country, who has 
lived there in his youth, and who has found life, with 
all its pains and pleasures, as much because of the 
pains as of the pleasures, admirable. Others have 
lived there, quite simply, and when they wrote have 
had other things to tell us. There have been writers 
who have visited Bohemia on their way to or from 
Shakespeare's seaport, inquisitive travellers with 
note-books ; but Murger, writing of what he had 
lived, had precisely the talent to make it live over 
again, unmoralised, unchanged; the gay, hapless, 
irresponsible, eternally youthful thing that it had 
been. 

Is the sentiment of the whole thing, it has often 
been asked, false sentiment? It is the sentiment 
youth has of itself, at the flowering moment of 
existence; and to whom, and in what sense, does a 
disillusioning experience give the right to deny the 
truth of a sentiment which had at least the irresist- 
ible sanction of a sensation? This gay and amusing 
book, in which youth speaks for itself with its own 
voice, is, after all, sad with the consciousness of the 
flight of youth. 

" La jeunesse n'a qu'un temps," 

Murger sings, in his most famous song. All these 
merry, shifting, shiftless people seem continually to 
be saying: " Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we 
die " ; they have the feverish gaiety of the gambler 



Introduction 



who has staked all on one throw. It is all for 
love, and love, with them, is known always to be 
a fragile, inconstant thing, even at the sharpest 
moment of enjoyment. If it lasts at all, it will 
last as a memory ; and they are careful in the 
preparation of that kind of posthumous enjoyment. 
" Muse de 1'infidelite," Murger addresses the eternal 
Musette, in one of those moments of recollection : 

" Non, ma jeunesse n'est pas morte, 
II n'est pas mort ton souvenir ; 
Et si tu frappais a ma porte, 
Mon cceur, Musette, irait t'ouvrir. 
Puisque a ton nom toujours il tremble, 
Muse de rinfide'lite', 
Reviens encor manger ensemble 
Le pain be"ni de la gaie'te'." 

And then, along with this pathetic feeling in re- 
gard to love, there is another, more sordid, not less 
actual, kind of pathos : the cold of winter nights in 
a garret, the odour of rich men's dinners as one 
passes penniless in the street. These people are 
very genuinely poor, and they discover no hidden 
treasure. They want, too, to be famous, and they 
have neither the talent nor the luck for that, the 
poor man's consolation. They see the hospital at 
the end of the way ; at best, they divine it around 
the corner. And meanwhile there is the reality of 
day by day, the necessity of a few poor luxuries : 
Mimi's bonnet, Francine's muff. Here, once more, is 
a sentiment which only the quite rich and fortunate 
can afford to distinguish as "false." 



Introduction 

And Murger handles this material lightly, not 
making it less pathetic because he declines to take 
melancholy things seriously. Bohemia has its 
own philosophy, a laughing kind of Stoicism, and 
Murger shows us this philosophy in action. He 
becomes a humorist by his faithfulness to the point 
of view which it is his business to render. 

Murger has an almost English quality in his 
humour, a quality so foreign to the French mind 
that the English word has been adopted to express 
a thing so essentially English. With him, as with 
Dickens, for example, mirth runs easily into pathos, 
though, with him, more simply, with less parade of 
tears. He professes no psychology beyond the 
humorous or pathetic representation of a few 
emotions common to most people ; giving us, as 
he does, youth's valuation of itself as the only 
quite important thing in the world, he fills out the 
types with a youthful exaggeration. He writes to 
entertain, and he finds entertainment to hand in the 
probable enough adventures of a few young men 
and women living from hand to mouth with per- 
sistent gaiety. If you look for realism, as the word 
has come to be understood, you will be disappointed. 
You will find instead a certain kind of reality, caught 
as it were in passing ; an improvisation in which 
the faults of the artist count for something, in their 
suggestion of the mere instincts or accidents of 
nature ; a human note, cry or laughter, which has 
its artistic value, as in some of the tales of Bret 



Introduction 

Harte, which are at once unreal and warmly 
human. 

Murger writes of a life which is itself a tragic 
comedy in fancy dresses, a life wholly in exaggera- 
tion. No one is quite sincere in Bohemia, because 
sincerity is a respectable virtue, tedious in the long 
run, and the transposition of things part of the 
charm of existence there. Everyone poses for 
effect, an effect of sincerity, if you will. Life is to 
be an art : rhetoric is the embellishment of art ; let 
life be rhetorical, a vari-coloured thing of sonorous 
cadences. Murger still touches us, through all that 
is unreal in the life that he represents and all that 
is unreal in his representation of it ; awakening in 
us, against our will, against our better judgment, it 
may be, a sharp, personal sense of pity, of acute 
interest, as at the recollection of something that 
had actually happened to ourselves. He gives us 
every sentiment for its own sake, taking part with 
it uncritically ; and, in his forgetfulness to be an 
artist, seems to come closer to us, like a comrade. 

ARTHUR SYMONS. 



PREFACE 

THE Bohemians described in this book have 
nothing in common with the Bohemians of 
boulevard playwrights, who have used the word 
as a synonym for pickpocket and murderer ; nor 
are they recruited from the ranks of bear-leaders, 
sword-eaters, vendors of key-rings, inventors of 
" infallible systems," stock-brokers of doubtful ante- 
cedents arid the followers of the thousand and one 
vague and mysterious callings in which the principal 
occupation is to have none whatever and to be ready 
at any time to do anything save that which is right. 

The Bohemians of this book are by no means a 
race of to-day ; they have existed all over the world 
ever since time began, and can lay claim to an 
illustrious descent. In the time of the ancient 
Greeks (not to pursue their genealogy any further) 
there was once a famous Bohemian who wandered 
about the fertile land of Ionia trusting to luck for 
a living, eating the bread of charity, stopping of 
nights by hospitable firesides where he hung the 
musical lyre to which the "Loves of Helen" had 
been sung and the "Fall of Troy." 

As we descend the course of ages we find fore- 
runners of the modern Bohemian in every epoch 



Preface 

famous for art or letters. Bohemia continues the 
tradition of Homer through the Middle Ages by the 
means of minstrel, improvisator /, les enfantz du gai 
savoir, and all the melodious vagabonds from the 
lowlands of Touraine ; all the muses errant who 
wandered with a beggar's wallet and a trouvere's 
harp over the fair and level land where the eglantine 
of Clemence Isaure should still flourish. , y 

In the transition period, between the Age of 
Chivalry and the dawn of the Renascence, the 
Bohemian still frequents the highways of the realm, 
and is even found in Paris streets. Witness Master 
Pierre Gringoire, for instance, friend of vagrants and 
sworn foe to fasting, hungry and lean as a man may 
well be when his life is but one long Lent ; there 
he goes, prowling along, head in air like a dog 
after game, snuffing up the odours from cookshop 
and kitchen ; staring so hard at the hams hanging 
from the pork-butcher's hooks, that they visibly 
shrink and lose weight under the covetous gaze of 
his glutton's eyes ; while he jingles in imagination 
(not, alas ! in his pockets) those ten crowns promised 
him by their worships the aldermen for a right pious 
and devout sotie composed by him for the stage of 
the Salle of the Palais de Justice. And the chronicles 
of Bohemia can place another profile beside the 
melancholy and rueful visage of Esmeralda's lover 
a companion portrait of jollier aspect and less 
ascetic humour. This is Master Francois Villon, 
lover of la belle qui fut heaulmiere poet and 



Preface 

vagabond par excellence, with a breadth of imagina- 
tion in his poetry. A strange obsession appears in 
in it, caused no doubt by a presentiment of a kind 
which the ancients attribute to their poets. Villon 
is haunted by the idea of the gibbet ; and indeed 
one day nearly wore a hempen cravat because he 
looked a little too closely at the colour of the king's 
coinage. And this same Villon, who more than 
once outstripped the posse comitatus at his heels, 
this roistering frequenter at the low haunts in the 
Rue Pierre Lescot, this smell-feast at the court of 
the Duke of Egypt, this Salvator Rosa of poetry, 
wrote verse with a ring of heart-broken sincerity in 
it that touches the hardest hearts, so that at sight 
of his muse, her face wet with streaming tears, we 
forget the rogue, the vagabond and the rake. 

Francois Villon, besides, has been honoured above 
all those poets whose work is little known to folk for 
whom French literature only begins "when Mal- 
herbe came," for he has been more plundered than 
any of them, and even by some of the greatest 
names of the modern Parnassus. There has been 
a rush for the poor man's field ; people have struck 
the coin of glory for themselves out of his little 
hoard of treasure. Such and such a ballade, written 
in the gutter under the drip of the eaves some bitter 
day by the Bohemian poet, or some love-song im- 
provised in the den where la belle quifut heaulmiere 
unclasped her girdle for all-comers, now makes its 
appearance, transformed to suit polite society and 



Preface 

scented with ambergris and musk, in albums adorned 
with the armorial bearings of some aristocratic 
Chloris. 

But now begins the grand age of the Renascence. 
Michel Angelo mounts the scaffolding in the Sixtine 
Chapel and looks thoughtful as young Rafael goes 
up the staircase of the Vatican with the sketches of 
the Loggie under his arm. Benvenuto is planning 
his Perseus and Ghiberti carving the bronze 
gates of the Baptistery, while Donatello rears his 
marble on the bridge across Arno. The city of the 
Medici rivals the city of Leo X. and Julius II. in 
the possession of masterpieces, while Titian and 
Paul Veronese adorn the city of the Doges 
St. Mark competing with St. Peter. 

The fever of genius suddenly broke out with 
the violence of an epidemic in Italy, and- the 
splendid contagion spread through Europe. Art, 
the Creator's rival, became the equal of kings. 
Charles V. stoops to pick up Titian's brush, and 
Francis I. waits on the printer Etienne Dolet, 
who is busy correcting the proofs (it may be) of 
Pantagruel. 

In the midst of this resurrection of the intellect 
the Bohemian seeks, as heretofore, for the poorest 
shelter and pittance of food la patee et la niche, 
to use Balzac's expression. Clement Marot, a fami- 
liar figure in the ante-chambers of the Louvre, is 
favoured by the fair Diane, who one day would be 
the favourite of a king, and lights three reigns with 



Preface 

her smile ; then the poet's faithless muse will pass 
from the boudoir of Diane de Poitiers to the 
chamber of Marguerite de Valois, a dangerous 
honour, which Marot must pay for by imprison- 
ment. Almost at the same time another Bohemian 
goes to the court of Ferrara, as Marot went to the 
court of Francis I. This is Tasso, whose lips were 
kissed by the epic muse in his childhood on the 
shore at Sorrento. But, less fortunate than the 
lover of Diane and Marguerite, the author of 
Gerusalemme must pay for his audacious love of a 
daughter of the House of Este with the loss of his 
reason and his genius. 

The religious wars and political storms that broke 
out in France with the arrival of the Medici did not 
stay the flight of Art. Jean Goujon, after discover- 
ing anew the pagan art of Pheidias, might be struck 
down by a bullet on the scaffolding of the Innocents ; 
but Ronsard would find Pindar's lyre, and with the 
help of the Pleiade found the great French school of 
lyric poets. To this school of revival succeeded the 
reaction, thanks to Malherbe and his followers. 
They drove out all the exotic graces introduced into 
the language by their predecessors' efforts to accli- 
matise them in poetry. And a Bohemian, Mathurin 
Regnier, was one of the last to defend the bulwarks 
of lyric poetry against the assault of the band of rhet- 
oricians and grammarians who pronounced Rabelais 
to be a barbarian and Montaigne obscure. It was the 
same Mathurin Re"gnier, the cynic, who tied fresh 



Preface 

knots in Horace's scourge, and made indignant out- 
cry against his age with " Honour is an old-fashioned 
saint, and nobody keeps his day." 

In the seventeenth century the enumeration of 
Bohemia includes some of the best known names 
in literature under Louis XIII. and Louis XIV. 
Bohemia counts wits of the Hotel Rambouillet 
among its members and lends a hand in the 
weaving of the Guirlande de Julie. Bohemia has 
her entrees at the Palais Cardinal and writes the 
tragedy of Marianne in collaboration with the poet- 
minister, the Robespierre of monarchy. Bohemia 
strews Marion Delorme's ruelle with pretty speeches 
and pays court to Ninon under the trees in the Place 
Royale, breakfasting of a morning at the Gomfres 
or the Epee Royale, supping of nights at the 
Due de Joyeuse's table and fighting duels under 
the street lamps for Uranie's sonnet as against 
the sonnet of Job. Bohemia makes love and war, 
and even tries a hand at diplomacy ; and in her old 
age, tired of adventures, perpetuates a metrical 
version of the Old and New Testaments, signing a 
receipt for a living on every page till at length, well 
fed with fat prebends, she seats herself on a bishop's 
seat, or in an Academical armchair founded by one 
of her chosen children. 

'Twas in the transition period between the seven- 
teenth and eighteenth centuries that two mighty 
geniuses appeared, whose names are always brought 
forward by the nations to which they belong in any 



Preface 

literary rivalry. Moliere and Shakespeare are two 
famous Bohemians, with only too many resemblances 
in their destinies. 

The most famous names in the literature of the 
eighteenth century are likewise to be found in the 
archives of Bohemia ; Jean Jacques Rousseau and 
d'Alembert (the foundling- left on the steps of Notre 
Dame) among the greatest; and, among the most 
obscure, Malfilatre and Gilbert, these two much 
overrated persons, for the inspiration of the one 
was only a pale reflection of the pallid lyric fervour 
of Jean Baptiste Rousseau, while that of the other 
was a blend of incapacity and pride, with a hatred 
which had not even the excuse of initiative and 
sincerity, since it was only the paid instrument of 
party spirit and party rancour. 

And here we bring our rapid summary of the illus- 
trious history of Bohemia to a close. We have pur- 
posely set these prefatory remarks in the forefront of 
this book, so as to set the reader on his guard against 
any mistaken idea of the meaning of the word 
"Bohemian" which he might perhaps be inclined 
to entertain before reading it, for the class whose 
customs and language we have herein endeavoured 
to trace makes it a point of honour to differentiate 
itself from those strata of society to which the name 
of " Bohemian " has long been misapplied. 

To-day, as in the past, any man who enters the 
path of Art, with his art as his sole means of 
support, is bound to pass by way of Bohemia. 



Preface 

Those of our contemporaries who display the 
noblest shields in the chivalry of Art were most of 
them Bohemians once, and in the calm and pros- 
perous glory of later life they often look back (per- 
haps with regret) to the days when they were 
climbing the green upward slope of youth, with no 
other fortune, in the sunlight of their twenty years, 
but courage (a young man's virtue) and hope, the 
riches of the poor. 

For the benefit of the nervous reader, the timorous 
Philistine, and that section of the public which can- 
not have too many dots on the i's of a definition, 
we repeat in axiomatic form 

''Bohemia is a stage of the artist's career; it is 
the preface to the Academy, the Hospital or the 
Morgue." 

Let us add that Bohemia neither exists nor can 
exist anywhere but in Paris. 

Bohemia, like all ranks of society, comprises 
various shades and diverse species and subdivisions, 
which it may be worth while to enumerate and 
classify. 

We will begin with Bohemia unknown to fame, 
by far the largest section of it. It is made up of 
the great clan of poor artists condemned by fate 
to preserve their incognito because for one reason 
or another they cannot find some little corner above 
the heads of the crowd, and so attest their own 
existence in Art and show by what they are already 
what they may be some day. A race of inveterate 



Preface 

dreamers are they, for whom art is always a creed 
and not a craft, and enthusiasts by conviction. 
The bare sight of a masterpiece throws them into a 
fever ; their loyal hearts beat high before anything 
beautiful : they do not ask to what school it belongs 
nor to what master. This Bohemia draws its re- 
cruits from among those young aspirants of whom 
it is said that " they give promise " as well as from 
those who fulfil the promise, yet by heedlessness, 
shyness, or ignorance of the practical, fancy that all 
is done when the work of art is finished and expect 
that fame and fortune will burst in on them by 
burglarious entry. These live on the outskirts of 
society, as it were, in loneliness and stagnation, till, 
fossilised in their art, they take the consecrated 
formulae about " the aureole round the poet's 
brow " as a literal statement of fact, and being 
persuaded that they shine in the shadow, expect 
people to come to look for them there. We once 
knew a little school of such originals, so quaint 
that it is hard to believe that they really existed ; 
they called themselves disciples of "art for Art's 
sake." According to these simple and ingenuous 
beings, "art for Art's sake" consisted in starting a 
mutual admiration society, in refraining from help- 
ing Chance, who did not so much as know their 
address, and waiting for pedestals to come to place 
themselves under their feet. 

This, as everyone sees, is carrying stoicism to the 
point of absurdity. Well, let us assert it once more 



Preface 

to be believed ; in the depths of unknown Bohemia 
there are such beings as these, whose wretchedness 
demands a pitying sympathy which common sense 
is compelled to refuse ; for put it to them quietly 
that we are living in the nineteenth century, that 
the five-franc piece is Empress of the human race, 
and that boots do not drop down ready varnished 
from the sky, and they will turn their backs upon 
you and abuse you for a Philistine. 

Still, at any rate, their mad heroism is thoroughly 
carried out ; they make no outcry, no complaint, 
submitting passively to the hard and obscure fate 
which they bring upon themselves. And for the 
most part they fall victims to the complaint which 
decimates them, a disease which medical science 
does not dare to call by its right name Want. 
Yet many of them, if they chose, might escape the 
catastrophe that suddenly cuts them off at an age 
when life as a rule is only beginning. They need 
only make one or two concessions to the hard laws 
of necessity, which means they should learn to 
live in duplicate, to keep one life for the poet in 
them the dreamer that dwells on the mountain 
heights where choirs of inspired voices sing to- 
gether and another for the labourer that contrives 
to provide daily bread. But this double life, which 
is almost always carried on in strong and well- 
balanced natures indeed, it is one of their chief 
characteristics is not often to be met with in young 
men of this stamp ; while pride, a bastard sort of 



Preface 

hour before they died, and quite believed that these 
were necessary stages on the way to fame. 

It is impossible to deal too severely with such 
immoral lies and murderous paradoxes ; many a man 
has been drawn by them out of paths where he 
might have met with success, only to end miserably 
in a career where he is blocking the way of those 
who, having a true vocation, alone possess the right 
to enter upon it. 

It is the preaching of such dangerous doctrines 
and the uncalled-for glorification of the dead which 
has brought into being the ridiculous race of the 
" misunderstood," the lachrymose poets whose muse 
is always seen with red eyes and dishevelled hair, 
and all the mediocrities who cannot create anything 
and from the limbo of manuscript call the Muse 
a harsh stepmother and Art their executioner. 

All really powerful minds have their word to say, 
and, as a matter of fact, say it sooner or later. 
Genius or talent do not come by pure accident ; they 
are not there without reason, and for the same 
reason they cannot always remain in obscurity. If 
the crowd does not go to them, they find their way 
to the crowd. Genius is like the sun : everyone can 
see it. Talent is the diamond : it may lie out of sight 
in the shadow for a long while, but somebody always 
finds it. So it is pity thrown away to feel moved 
by the lamentations and twaddle talked by a class 
of intruders and worthless persons who thrust them- 
selves into the domains of Art, Art itself opposing them, 



Preface 

and who make up a section of Bohemia where idle- 
ness, debauchery, and toadyism are the general rule. 

Axiom. Unknown Bohemia is not a thorough- 
fare ; it is a cul-de-sac. 

In truth, it is a life which leads to nothing. It 
means brutalising want ; intelligence is extinguished 
by it, as a lamp goes out for want of air ; the heart 
is turned to stone by a savage misanthropy ; the 
best natures become the worst. Anyone so un- 
fortunate as to stay too long, to go too far to turn 
back, can never get out again ; or can only escape 
by forcing his way out, at his peril, into a neigh- 
bouring Bohemia, whose manners and customs 
belong to another jurisdiction than that of the 
physiology of literature. 

We may cite another a singular variety. These 
are Bohemians who may be called amateurs. They 
are not the least curious kind. Bohemian life is 
full of attraction for their minds to have doubts 
as to whether each day will provide a dinner, to 
sleep out of doors while the clouds shed tears of 
rainy nights, and to wear nankeen in December, 
would appear to make up the sum of human felicity. 
To enter that paradise they leave their home, or 
the study which would have brought about a 
sure result, turning their backs abruptly on an 
honourable career for the quest of adventures and 
a life of uncertain chances. But since the most 
robust can hardly cling to a mode of life which 
would send a Hercules into a consumption, they 



Preface 

throw up the game before long, scamper back in 
hot haste to the paternal roast, marry their little 
cousin, set up as notaries in some town of thirty 
thousand inhabitants, and of an evening by the 
fireside they have the satisfaction of telling "what 
they went through in their artist days," with all the 
pride of a traveller's tale of his tiger hunt. Others 
plume themselves on holding out ; but when once 
they have exhausted all the means of getting credit 
open to young men of expectations, they are worse 
off than genuine Bohemians, who, never having had 
any other resources, can, at any rate, live by their 
wits. We have known one of these amateurs, who, 
after staying three years in Bohemia and quarrelling 
with his family, died one fine morning and was 
carried in a pauper's hearse to a pauper's grave ; 
he had an income of ten thousand francs ! 

Needless to say, these Bohemians have nothing 
whatsoever to do with Art, and they are the most 
obscure, amongst the most ignored, in unknown 
Bohemia. 

Now for Bohemia proper, the subject, in part, 
of this book. Those of whom it is composed 
are really "called," and have some chance of being 
among the "chosen" of Art. This Bohemia, like 
the others, bristles with dangers ; it lies between the 
two gulfs of Anxiety and Want. But, at any rate, 
there is a road between the two gulfs, and it leads 
to a goal which the Bohemians may behold with 
their eyes until they can lay their hands upon it. 



Preface 

This is official Bohemia, so called because its 
members have given evidence to the public of their 
existence ; they have made some sign of their 
presence in life other than the entry on the regis- 
trar's page ; in short (to use their own expression), 
they have "got their names up," are known in 
the literary and artistic market ; there is a sale, 
at moderate prices it is true, but still a sale, for 
produce bearing their mark. 

To arrive at this end, which is quite definitely 
determined, all ways are good ; and the Bohemian 
knows how to turn everything, even the very 
accidents by the road, to advantage. Rain or 
dust, shadow or sun, nothing brings these bold 
adventurers to a stand. Their very faults have 
virtues to back them. Ambition keeps their wits 
always on the alert, sounds the charge, and urges 
them on to the assault of the future ; invention 
never slackens, it is always grappling with neces- 
sity, always carrying a lighted fuse to blow up 
any obstacle so soon as it is felt to be in the way. 
Their very subsistence is a work of genius, a daily 
renewed problem, continually solved by audacious 
feats of mathematics. These are the men to 
extract a loan from Harpagon and to find truffles 
on the raft of the Medusa. They can, at a pinch, 
practise abstinence with all the virtue of an an- 
chorite ; but let a little good fortune come their 
way and you shall presently see them riding the 
most ruinous hobbies, making love to the youngest 



Preface 

and fairest, drinking of the oldest and best. There 
are not windows enough for them to fling their 
money through. Then, when their last five-franc 
piece is dead and buried, they go back to dine at 
the ordinary of Chance, where a knife and fork is 
always laid for them ; and preceded by a pack of 
cunning shifts, they go a-poaching in the preserves 
of every industry in the neighbourhood of Art, 
stalking from morning to evening that shyest of 
game known as the five-franc piece. 

Bohemians go everywhere and know everything ; 
sometimes their boots are varnished, sometimes 
down at heel, and their knowledge and the manner 
of their going varies accordingly. You may find 
one of them one day leaning against the chimney- 
piece of some fashionable drawing-room, and the 
next at a table in some dancing saloon. They 
cannot go ten paces on the boulevard but they 
meet a friend, nor thirty without coming across 
a creditor. 

Bohemia has an inner language of its own, taken 
from studio talk, the slang of green-rooms, and 
debates in newspaper offices. All eclecticisms of style 
meet in this unparalleled idiom, where apocalyptic 
terms of expression jostle the cock-and-bull story 
and the rusticity of popular sayings is allied with 
high-flown periods shaped in the mould whence 
Cyrano drew his hectoring tirades ; where paradox 
(that spoilt child of modern literature) treats common 
sense as Cassandra is treated in the pantomimes ; 



Preface 

where irony bites like the most powerful acid, and 
as those dead shots who can hit the bull's-eye with 
their eyes bandaged. Tis an intelligent argot y albeit 
unintelligible to those who have not the key to it, 
and audacious beyond the utmost bounds of free 
speech in any tongue. The vocabulary of Bohemia 
is the hell of rhetoric and the paradise of the 
neologism. 

Such, in brief, is Bohemian life little known of 
the social puritan, disparaged by the puritans of Art, 
insulted by fearful and jealous mediocrity in every 
form, which cannot clamour forth lies and slander 
enough to drown the voices and the names of those 
who reach success through this forecourt of fame by 
yoking audacity to their talent. 

It is a life that needs patience and courage. No 
one can attempt the struggle unless he wears the 
stout armour of indifference, proof against fools and 
envious attacks ; and no one can afford to lose his 
pride in himself for a moment ; it is his staff, and 
without it he will stumble by the way. Delightful 
and terrible life, which boasts its conquerors and its 
martyrs, on which no one should enter unless he has 
made up his mind beforehand to submit to the 
ruthless law : va metis. H. M. 



HENRY MURGER 
1822-1861 

"The Latin Quarter" 

("Scenes de la Vie de Boheme ") 
1845 



THE LATIN QUARTER 

(" Scenes de la Vie de Boheme ") 
I 

HOW THE BROTHERHOOD CAME TOGETHER 

BEHOLD how Chance (styled by sceptics the 
business -agent of Providence) brought to- 
gether in a single day every one of the individuals 
who afterwards met in the bonds of brotherly union, 
constituting an inner circle in that fraction of the 
country of Bohemia which the present author has 
endeavoured to make known to the public. 

One morning (it was the 8th of April) Alexandre 
Schaunard, who cultivated the two liberal arts of 
music and painting, was suddenly startled out of 
his slumber by a lusty peal from the king of a 
neighbouring poultry-yard, who acted as his alarm 
clock. 

"Good gracious!" cried Schaunard, " this 
feathered timepiece of mine is fas' Impossible ! 
It cannot be to-day already ! " 

So saying he skipped nimbly at of a piece of 
furniture of his own industriov invention, a kind 

B I 



The Latin Quarter 

of Jack-of-all-trades, which played the role of a 
bedstead by night (and, without boasting 1 , played 
it passably ill), while by day it represented every- 
thing- else, the rest of the furniture having been 
absent ever since the previous winter a remarkably 
rigorous season. 

Schaunard proceeded next to wrap himself against 
the nipping breeze of morning in a pink spangled 
satin petticoat which he used as a dressing-gown. 
This piece of finery had been left behind in his 
room one night after a masked ball by a Folly, 
foolish to the extent of trusting to Schaunard's 
specious promises, when the latter, as the Marquis 
de Mondor, jingled a dozen crowns seductively in 
his pockets. The said coins, having been cut out 
of a sheet of base metal with a punch, possessed 
a purely fancy value, and formed indeed a part of 
the accessories of a costume borrowed from the 
theatre. 

His morning toilet thus completed, the artist flung 
open first the window, then the shutter. A ray of 
sunshine flashed in like an arrow, till he was fain 
to close a pair of eyes still veiled in the mists of 
slumber ; and at that very moment a clock struck 
five from a neighbouring steeple. 

"It is really the dawn," muttered Schaunard. 
"An astonishing fact; but there is a mistake all 
the same," he continued, going up to an almanack 
on the wall. "The indications of science affirm 
that at this season of the year the sun ought 
not to rise before half-past five. It is just five 
o'clock, and the sun is up already ! Blameworthy 
zeal ! The planet is in the wrong. I shall com- 



The Brotherhood 

plain to the Astronomical Board. And yet," he 
went on, "it is time I began to feel a little anxiety 
on my own account. To-day, no doubt, imme- 
diately succeeds to yesterday, and as yesterday 
was the yth, to-day must be the 8th of April, 
unless Saturn has taken to walking backwards. 
From the tenor of this document," he continued 
(scanning a formal notice to quit pinned to the 
wall), "I gather that this day I am bound to leave 
this room clear of all effects by noon precisely, after 
counting into the hands of M. Bernard, my landlord, 
the sum of seventy-five francs, representing three 
quarters' rent, now due, which he claims in execrable 
handwriting. And I, as usual, hoped that Chance 
would take this matter in hand and settle it for 
me ; but it rather looks as if Chance had not found 
time for it. In fact, I have six hours left, and by 

making good use of the time I may, perhaps 

Oh, come, let us get to work ! " 

Schaunard was proceeding to dress himself in a 
great -coat of some once shaggy material, now 
irremediably bald, when suddenly, as if a tarantula 
had bitten him, he began to dance, executing a 
choregraphic composition of his own which had 
often won the honour of special attention from the 
police at public balls. 

"Dear me! it is peculiar how the morning air 
gives one ideas ! I am on the track of my tune, it 

seems to me ! Let us see " And Schaunard 

sat down half-dressed ( ^iduu, roused the 

sleeping instrument with a tempestuous assortment 
of chords, and set off in quest of the melodious 
phrase which had eluded his pursuit so long. 
3 



The Latin Quarter 

' ' Do, sol, mi, do, la, si, do, re. Bourn I bourn ! Fa, 
re, mi, re. Eh! eh! That re rings false, false as 
Judas ! " cried Schaunard, thumping on the doubtful 
key. " Let us try the minor. 

" A young person is pulling a daisy to pieces on a 
blue lake, and this thing ought to touch off her 
affliction neatly. Tis an idea that is past its first 
youth. But after all, since it's the fashion, and as 
no publisher can be found bold enough to bring out 
a song without a blue lake in it, why you must 
conform. Do, sol, mi, do, la, si, do, re. That is not 
so bad it gives a good enough idea of a daisy, 
especially to people that are not very well up in 
botany. La, si, do, re (there's that rascally re 
again !). Now to give a good idea of the blue lake 
you ought to have dampness, and azure, and moon- 
light (for there the moon is in it too). Stay now, 
it's coming though ; we must not forget the swan. 
Fa, mi, la, sol," continued Schaunard, clinking the 
crystalline notes of the upper octave. " Now there 
is only the girl's farewell, when she makes up her 
mind to take the plunge into the blue lake so as to 
rejoin her true love that lies buried under the snow. 
The ending is not very clear, but it is interesting. 
You want something tender and melancholy. There 
it comes ; now for a dozen bars weeping like 
Magdalene, fit to split your heart in pieces. Brr / 
brrf" cried Schaunard, shivering in his spangled 
petticoat, "if it would only split a little firewood 
as well ! There is a joist in the recess over the bed 
that gets very much in the way when I have company 
to dinner. I might light a bit of fire with that 
(la, la, re, mi) for I feel inspiration coming on me 
4 



The Brotherhood 

with a cold in the head. Pooh ! so much the worse ! 
Let us get on with drowning- the girl." 

Schaunard's fingers tortured the quivering key- 
board, as with gleaming eyes and straining ears he 
pursued the melody that seemed to hover nymph- 
like above him, but declined to be caught in the 
maze of sounds that rose like a fog from the 
vibrating instrument. 

"Now we will see how my music and the poet's 
words hang together," he continued, and in an un- 
pleasant voice he began to try over some poetry of 
the order peculiar to comic opera and the lyric 

" The maid with the golden hair 

Flings her mantilla by, 
Then to the heavens so fair 

Raises a tear-dimmed eye ; 
Then in the silvery wave 

Rippling the lake so blue 

"What! what!" cried Schaunard, justly indig- 
nant. "A silvery wave in a blue lake. I never 
noticed that till now. Too romantic by half. After 
all, the poet is an idiot ; he never saw silver nor 
yet a lake in his life. His ballad is stupid into the 
bargain ; the length of his lines does not fit into my 
music. I shall compose my own words in future, 
which is to say that I mean to set about it, and that 
no later than at once. I feel I am in the vein. I 
will rough out some model couplets and adapt my 
tune to them afterwards." 

Schaunard, with his head between his hands, 

assumed the pensive attitude proper to a mortal 

in commerce with the Muse. Then, after a few 

moments of this divine intercourse, he brought 

5 



The Latin Quarter 

into the world one of the misshapen conceptions 
known as dummy-verses, which librettists throw off 
with considerable facility, to serve as a provisional 
basis for the composer's art. Schaunard's dummy, 
however, was not devoid of common sense. It 
represented accurately enough the disturbance 
aroused in his brain by the brutal reality of the 
date the 8th of April. 
Here are the couplets 

Eight and eight make sixteen 

(Six, and you carry the one) ; 
Pleased and proud I had been 

If, ere the quarter was done, 
I had found some one to lend 

(Somebody honest and poor) 
Eight hundred francs to a friend ; 

I'd have paid up, I am sure. 

REFRAIN. 

Then, when a quarter to twelve 

Sounds from the dial of Fate, 
I'll go to my landlord myself (thrice], 

And settle accounts up to date. 

"The deuce!" exclaimed Schaunard, looking 
over his composition; "self and twelve! A 
beggarly pair of rhymes, but I have not time now 
to enrich them. Let us try the music wedded to 
the words." 

Again he attacked his ballad, with a frightful 
nasal intonation peculiarly his own. The result 
was doubtless pleasing to him, for he hailed it with 
the jubilant grin which, like a circumflex accent, 
bestrode his visage whenever he was particularly 
pleased with himself. But his proud ecstasy was of 
snort duration. 

6 



The Brotherhood 

Eleven o'clock sounded from the neighbouring 
steeple. Every sonorous stroke, ringing through 
the miserable Schaunard's chamber, died away in 
mocking echoes that seemed to inquire, " Are you 
ready ? " 

He started violently on his chair. 

''Time runs like a stag. I have to find seventy- 
five francs and new lodgings, and only three- 
quarters of an hour to do it in which I never 
shall It is altogether too much in the conjuring 
line. See here, I will give myself five minutes to 
find out how to do it," and, burying his head 
between his knees, he dived into the abysmal 
depths of reflection. 

The five minutes went by. Schaunard lifted his 
head again, but he had found nothing that in the 
least resembled his seventy-five francs. 

"If I am to get out of this there is precisely 
one way of setting about it, and that is to walk 
out quite naturally. My friend Chance may be 
taking a stroll outside in the sun ; he surely 
will offer me hospitality until I can settle with 
M. Be-nard." 

So saying, Schaunard stuffed everything that 
could DC stowed into his great-coat pockets (two 
receptacles capacious as cellars), tied up a selection 
of linen into a bundle, took leave of his room with 
a few vords of farewell, and went downstairs. 

The concierge seemed to be on the look-out, for 
he callid across the yard to Schaunard, and barred 
his passage out. 

4 'Hi! M. Schaunard. Can you have forgotten? 
To-daj is the 8th." 

7 



The Latin Quarter 

" Eight and eight make sixteen 
(Six, and you carry the one)," 

hummed Schaunard. " It is the one thought in my 
mind." 

' 'You are a little behindhand with your moving, 
and that is a fact," remarked the concierge, "it 
is half-past eleven ; the new tenant may come in at 
any moment and want your room. You had better 
look sharp." 

"Very well, then, just let me pass. I am g^ing 
out to find a cart to remove my things." 

"No doubt; but there is one little formality to 
discharge first. My orders are not to let you take 
away so much as a hair till you have paid up what 
you owe for the three last terms. You are ready to 
do so, I suppose ? " 

"Rather!" returned Schaunard, taking a step 
forward. 

"Then, if you will step into my room, I will give 
you the receipts at once." 

" I will look in for that when I come back." 

" But why not now ? " persisted the man. 

" I am going out to get change." 

"Oho! you are going out to get change, are 
you?" returned the other suspiciously. "Well, 
then, just to oblige you, I'll take care of that 
little bundle you have under your arm ; you might 
find it in your way." 

"Monsieur le concierge!" said Schaunard with 
much dignity, "is it possible that you harboar any 
suspicions of me? Can you suppose that I am 
capable of removing my furniture in a pDcket- 
handkerchief ? " 

8 



The Brotherhood 

"I beg your pardon, sir," replied the man, 
lowering his tone a little, " those are my orders. 
M. Bernard expressly forbade me to allow you to 
take away one hair until you had paid up." 

"Now, just look," said Schaunard, untying his 
bundle, ''there are no hairs here. These are shirts 
that I am taking to the laundress, not twenty paces 
away, next door to the money-changer's." 

"That is another thing," the concierge admitted 
after a scrutiny of the contents. "If it's a fair 
question, M. Schaunard, may I ask for your new 
address ? " 

" I am staying in the Rue de Rivoli," Schaunard 
answered coolly ; but by this time he had one foot 
in the street, and was out and away at his utmost 
speed. 

"Rue de Rivoli," muttered the concierge with a 
finger to his nose, " Rue de Rivoli. It is very 
odd that anybody should let him take a room in the 
Rue de Rivoli without coming here to ask about 
him, very odd ! After all, he can't take away his 
things, at any rate, without paying his rent. If 
only the new lodger does not come in just as 
M. Schaunard is going out. A pretty row there 
would be on the stairs ! Hullo ! just as I thought," 
he cried, suddenly popping his head out at the 
wicket, "here comes the new lodger himself." 

A young man with a white Louis XIII. hat was, 
in fact, turning in under the archway, and behind 
him came a commissionaire who seemed to be by no 
means bending under his burden. 

" Is my room at liberty? " inquired this person as 
the concierge came out to meet him. 
9 



The Latin Quarter 

"Not yet, sir, but it will be ready directly. The 
last tenant has gone out to find a cart to fetch his 
things. And in the meantime you can put your 
furniture down in the courtyard." 

"I am afraid it will rain," returned the new 
tenant, placidly chewing the stalks of a bunch of 
violets that he held between his teeth, "and then 
my furniture would be damaged." He turned to the 
man behind him who certainly carried a load of 
objects of some kind, though the concierge would 
have been puzzled to tell exactly what they were. 
"Put them down here in the entrance," continued 
the man in the white hat, "and go back to my old 
lodgings for the rest of my valuable furniture and 
works of art." 

The commissionaire accordingly proceeded to stack 
a series of canvas-covered frames against the wall. 
Each separate leaf was some six or seven feet high, 
and apparently, if they were put end to end, they might 
spread out to any required extent. Their owner 
tilted one of them forward and looked inside. 

"Look here ! " he cried, pointing to a notch torn 
in the canvas. " Here is a misfortune ! You have 
cracked my great Venetian mirror ! Next time try 
to mind what you are about, and be particularly 
careful of my book-case." 

"What does he mean with his Venetian mirror? " 
muttered the concierge, peering suspiciously at the 
stack of frames. "There is no looking-glass there. 
It is a joke, of course ; the thing looks like a screen 
to me. At any rate, we shall soon see what he 
brings next." 

"Your lodger is going to let me have the room 



The Brotherhood 

directly, is he not ? It is half-past twelve, I should 
be glad to move in," remarked the new tenant. 

"I don't think he will be long now," said the 
concierge. " Besides, there's no harm done yet, 
seeing that your furniture is still to come," he 
added, laying some stress on the last few words. 
The young man was just about to reply when an 
orderly in dragoon's uniform entered the yard. 

" M. Bernard?" inquired the dragoon, drawing a 
letter from a big leather pouch that flapped against 
him at every movement. 

" This is where he lives." 

" Then here is a letter for him. Give me a receipt 
for it," and he held out a printed form for sig- 
nature. 

"Excuse me," said the concierge as he retired 
into the house, addressing the owner of the frames, 
now tramping impatiently up and down the yard, 
"this is a letter from the Government, and I must 
go up to M. Bernard with it. He is my employer." 

M. Bernard was in the act of shaving when his 
concierge appeared. 

" What do you want, Durand ? " 

"An orderly has just come and brought this for 
you, sir," said Durand, removing his cap. "It is 
from the Government." As he spoke he held out an 
envelope stamped with the seal of the War Office. 

M. Bernard grew so excited that he all but cut 
himself with his razor. "Good Lord!" cried he. 
"The War Office ! I am sure it is my nomination 
as Chevalier of the Legion of Honour that I've been 
asking for this long while. My extreme respect- 
ability is meeting with recognition at last ! Here, 



The Latin Quarter 

Durand," he added, fumbling in his waistcoat 
pocket, "here are five francs for you. Go and 
drink my health. Stop a bit, though, I haven't my 
purse about me ; you shall have it in a moment. 
Wait." 

The concierge's experience of his employer left 
him quite unprepared for such an overwhelming 
outburst of generosity. He was so moved by it 
that he forgot himself and put his cap on again. 

At any other moment M. Bernard would have 
dealt severely with this breach of the laws of the 
social hierarchy ; but now it seemed to pass un- 
perceived. He put on his spectacles, broke the 
seal with the respectful emotion of a vizier receiving 
a letter from the sultan, and began to read the 
document. At the very first line a ghastly grimace 
deepened little crimson wrinkles in the fat of his 
monk's jowl ; his little eyes darted forth angry 
sparks that all but set the bristling tufts of his wig 
on fire, and by the time he had done, so chop-fallen 
was he, that an earthquake might have shaken 
every feature of his countenance. 

These are the contents of the missive for which 
M. Durand had duly given the Government a 
receipt. This is the despatch indited upon War 
Office stationery, and brought at hot speed by a 
dragoon : 

"SiR AND LANDLORD, Policy, which, according to myth- 
ology, is the grandmother of good manners, compels me to 
inform you that a painful necessity forbids me to conform to 
the established usage of paying rent, more especially when 
rent is due. Until this morning I had cherished the hope that 
it might be in my power to celebrate this glorious day by 
discharging three quarters' arrears. Fond dream ! chimerical 
12 



The Brotherhood 

illusion ! Even as I slumbered on the pillow of security, ill- 
luck (in Greek avavKr)) ill-luck dispersed my hopes. The 
receipts on which I counted failed to make an appearance 
(heavens ! how bad trade is just now !) they failed to appear, 
I say, for out of very considerable sums owing- to me I have 
so far received but three francs and they were borrowed. I 
do not propose to offer them to you. Better days are in store, 
do not doubt it, sir, both for our fair France and for me. So 
soon as they shall dawn I will try to inform you of the fact, 
and to withdraw from your premises the valuables that I now 
leave in your keeping-. To you, sir, I entrust them, and to the 
protection of the enactment which forbids you to dispose of 
them within a twelvemonth, should you feel tempted to try 
that method of recovering the sums for which you stand 
credited on the ledger page of my scrupulous integrity. My 
pianoforte I recommend particularly to your care, as also the 
large picture-frame containing sixty specimen locks of hair of 
every shade of capillary hue, each one shorn from the brows 
of the Graces by the scalpel of Eros. 

"So, sir, my landlord, you are free to dispose of the roof 
that erewhile sheltered me. I hereby grant permission to that 
effect. Witness my hand and seal. 

"ALEXANDER SCHAUNARD." 

Schaunard had gone to a friend, a clerk in the 
War Department, and written the epistle in his 
office. 

When M. Bernard had read this missive to the 
end he crumpled it up indignantly. Then, as his 
eyes fell on old Durand, who stood waiting for the 
promised five francs, he asked him roughly what he 
was doing there. 

' 'Waiting, sir." 

"For what?" 

1 ' Why, sir, you were so generous ; er er the 
good news, sir ! " stammered out the concierge. 

"Get out! What, you rascal, do you stand and 
speak to me with your head covered ? " 
13 



The Latin Quarter 

"But, sir " 

"Don't answer me. There. No, wait a bit 
though. We will go up to that scoundrelly artist's 
room. He has gone off without paying his rent." 

" What ! " cried Durand. "M. Schaunard? " 

"Yes," said the landlord, his fury rising like 
Nicollet in a crescendo. " Yes. And if he has taken 
a single thing with him, out you go. Do you under- 
stand ? Out you go-o-o ! " 

"It can't be," the poor concierge muttered. 
" M. Schaunard has not moved out. He went out 
for change to pay you, sir, and to order a cart 
round to fetch his things." 

"Fetch his things!" screamed M. Bernard. 
"Quick ! he is up there after it now, I'll be bound. 
He set the trap to get you out of the way, and did 
the trick ! idiot that you are ! " 

" Oh, Lord ! idiot that I am ! " cried old Durand, 
and, quaking from head to foot before the Olympian 
wrath of his betters, he was dragged down the 
staircase. 

Arrived in the courtyard, Durand was hailed at 
once by the young fellow in the white hat. 

"Look here, concierge," cried he, "am I going 
to be put in possession of my room? Is to-day 
the 8th of April? Did I engage the lodgings here 
and pay you the luck-penny, or did I not ? " 

" I beg your pardon, sir, I am at your service," 
broke in the landlord. " Durand, I shall speak to 
this gentleman myself. Go upstairs. That scoundrel 
Schaunard is there packing up his things, no doubt. 
Lock him in, if you can catch him, and then go out 
for the police." 

14 



The Brotherhood 

Old Durand disappeared up the staircase. The 
landlord and the new-comer were left together. 

"I beg- your pardon, sir," M. Bernard began, 
"but to whom have I the pleasure of speaking?" 

"I am your new tenant, sir. I engaged a room 
here on the sixth floor, and I am beginning to grow 
impatient because I can't move in." 

"You find me in despair," exclaimed M. Bernard. 
"A difficulty has arisen between me and one of my 
tenants; in fact, the tenant whom you are about 
to replace." 

A voice sounded from above ; it came from a 
window on the top story. 

"M. Bernard, sir!" shouted old Durand. " M. 
Schaunard isn't here ! But his room is here ! 
(Idiot that I am !) I mean to say he hasn't taken 
anything away not a single hair, M. Bernard, 
sir ! " 

" That is right. Come down," called M. Bernard. 
Then, addressing the young man, "Dear me! have 
a little patience, I beg. My man shall stow all the 
insolvent lodger's furniture in the cellar, and you 
shall move in in half an hour. Besides, your own 
furniture isn't here yet." 

" I beg your pardon, sir," the new-comer returned 
placidly. M. Bernard took a look about him, but 
he saw nothing save the huge screens that had 
previously made his concierge uneasy. 

"Eh, what? I beg your pardon. Eh? I don't 
see any," he murmured. 

" Look," returned the other, and he opened 
out the leaves of the screen, displaying to the 
landlord's gaze a palatial interior full of jasper 
15 



The Latin Quarter 

pillars and bas-reliefs and pictures by great 
masters. 

" But your furniture ? " 

4 'Here it is," and, with a wave of the hand, he 
indicated the sumptuous splendours of the painted 
palace, part of a set of decorations for the amateur 
stage, a recent purchase at the Hotel Bullion. 

"I am pleased to believe, sir, that you have 
something more solid in the way of furniture 
than tfiat." 

" What, genuine Boule ! " 

"I must have some guarantee for my rent, you 
understand." 

"The deuce! Isn't a palace good enough to 
cover the rent of a garret?" 

"No, sir. I must have furniture genuine 
mahogany furniture." 

"Alas ! yet neither gold nor mahogany can make 
us happy, to quote the ancients. And, speaking for 
myself, I cannot endure it. Mahogany is a stupid 
sort of wood ; everybody has mahogany ! " 

"But after all, sir, you have some furniture of 
some kind, I suppose ? " 

"No. It fills up the space till there is no room 
for anything else. As soon as you bring chairs into 
a place you do not know where to sit." 

"Still, you have a bedstead? How do you lie 
down at night ? " 

"I lie down trusting in Providence, sir." 

" I beg your pardon, one more question. What is 
your profession, if you please ? " 

At that very moment in walked the commissionaire 
for the second time. Among the various objects 
16 



The Brotherhood 

slung over his shoulders appeared an unmistak- 
able easel. Old Durand pointed this out in dismay 
to the landlord. 

" Oh, sir, he is a painter ! " 

1 'An artist! I knew it!" M. Bernard exclaimed 
in his turn (and the hairs of his wig stood upright 
with fright). " An artist ! ! ! But " (turning to the 
concierge) "did you not make any inquiries about 
this gentleman ? Did you not know what he did ? " 

"Lord, sir, he gave me five francs for my luck- 
penny ; how was I to imagine that 

" When you have done," began the owner of the 
easel, but M. Bernard adjusted his spectacles on his 
nose with aplomb. 

"Sir," said he, "since you have no furniture you 
cannot move it in. I am legally entitled to decline 
a lodger who brings no guarantee." 

"And how about my word?" the artist inquired 
with dignity. 

" It is no equivalent for furniture. You can look 
for lodgings somewhere else. Durand shall give 
you back your luck-penny." 

"Eh?" cried the dumbfounded concierge, "I paid 
it into the savings-bank." 

"But I cannot find another lodging all in a 
minute," objected he of the hat. "Let me have a 
day's shelter, at any rate." 

"Go to the hotel," returned M. Bernard. " By- 
the-by," he added quickly as a sudden thought 
struck him, " I will let you have the room furnished 
if you like. My insolvent lodger's things are up 
there. Only the rent, as you know, in such cases is 
paid in advance." 

c 17 



The Latin Quarter 

"The question is how much you want for the 
den," said the artist, seeing there was no other way 
out of it. 

" But it is a very good room ; the rent will be 
twenty-five francs a month, under the circumstances. 
You pay in advance." 

"So you have said already; the phrase hardly 
deserves the honour of an encore." He fell to 
fumbling in his pockets. "Have you change for 
five hundred francs ? " 

"Eh? what?" exclaimed his amazed landlord. 

"Oh, well, call it half a thousand, then. Have 
you never seen such a thing before ? " continued the 
artist, waving the note before the eyes of landlord 
and concierge. The latter appeared to lose his 
balance completely at the sight. 

" I will give you change," M. Bernard began 
respectfully. "There will only be twenty francs to 
take, since Durand is giving you back your luck- 
penny." 

"He may keep it," said the artist, "on condition 
that he will come up every morning to tell me the 
day of the week, the day of the month, the quarter 
of the moon, and what kind of a day it is, and what 
form of government we are living under." 

" Oh, sir ! " cried old Durand, bowing to an angle 
of ninety degrees. 

"All right, my good fellow, you will act as my 
almanack. And in the meantime you will help my 
commissionaire with the moving in." 

" I will send you your receipt directly, sir," added 
the landlord. And that very evening Marcel the 
painter was installed as M. Bernard's new lodger. 
18 



The Brotherhood 

Schaunard had fled, and his garret was transformed 
into a palace. 

The said Schaunard, meanwhile, was beating up 
Paris for money. 

Schaunard had .elevated borrowing into a fine art. 
Foreseeing that it might be necessary to " oppress " 
foreigners, he had learned the requisite formulae for 
borrowing five francs in every language under the 
sun. He had made a profound study of the whole 
repertory of ruses by which the precious metals are 
wont to escape their pursuers. No pilot is better 
acquainted with the state of the tides than he with 
the times of low and high water ; which is to say, 
the days when his friends and acquaintances were 
sure to be in funds. So much so, indeed, that if he 
were seen entering any particular house, people 
would say, not " There is M. Schaunard," but, 
' 'To-day is the first, or the fifteenth of the month." 
Partly to facilitate the collection of this kind of 
tithe which he levied when hard up, partly to spread 
it evenly over the area of persons capable of meeting 
the call, Schaunard had drawn up alphabetical lists 
of all his acquaintances, and tabulated them under 
the headings of quarters and arrondissements. 
Opposite each name he set down the highest 
possible sum that he could expect to borrow in 
proportion to the owner's means, the dates when 
he was in funds, a time-table of meals, together 
with the probable bill of fare. Schaunard kept 
besides a little set of books in perfect order, in 
which he entered all the sums that he borrowed 
down to the most minute fractions, for he had no 
mind to burden himself with debt beyond a certain 
19 



The Latin Quarter 

figure, and the amount of that figure still hung on 
the pen of an uncle in Normandy whose property 
he was one day to inherit. So soon as Schaunard 
owed twenty francs to any one individual, he 
stopped borrowing and repaid the money in a lump, 
even if he had to borrow from others to whom he 
owed smaller amounts. In this way he always kept 
up a certain credit on the market, which credit he 
was pleased to style his " floating debt," and as it 
was known that he invariably paid his debts so 
soon as his resources permitted him to do so, 
people were very ready to oblige him whenever 
they could. 

But to-day, since eleven o'clock in the morning 
when he started out to scrape together those 
seventy-five indispensable francs, he had only 
succeeded in making up one poor little five-franc 
piece. This had been done with the collaboration 
of the letters M V and R on his famous list ; all 
the rest of the alphabet was passing through a 
precisely similar crisis, and this brought his quest 
to an end. 

By six o'clock a ferocious appetite was ringing 
the dinner-bell within, and he had reached the 
Barriere du Maine, where the letter U was 
domiciled. Schaunard had a serviette ring in U's 
establishment, whenever there were serviettes. The 
porter called after him as he went past. 

" Where are you going, sir ? " 

"Up to M. U ." 

"He is out." 

" And madame?" 

" She is out too. They went out to dinner and 



The Brotherhood 

left a message with me for one of their friends who 
was sure to come this evening, they said. In fact 
they were expecting you, and this is the address they 
left with me," added the porter, holding out a scrap 
of paper. 

Schaunard read these words in his friend U's 
handwriting : 

"Gone to dine with Schaunard, Rue Come and look 

us up." 

"Well, well," thought he as he went away, 
" when chance comes in pretty tricks he plays ! " 

Then Schaunard bethought himself of a little 
eating-house only a few steps away, where he had 
made a meal once or twice before for a trifling sum. 
To this establishment, known to lower Bohemia as 
La Mere Cadet, he now betook himself. La Mere 
Cadet, half tavern, half restaurant, situated in the 
Chausse"e du Maine, is patronised largely by carters 
of the Orleans Road with a sprinkling of cantatrices 
from Montparnasse and first walking gentlemen from 
Bobino's. In summer the place is crammed with 
young aspirants from studios round about the 
Luxembourg, literary gentlemen unknown to fame, 
and scribblers attached to more or less mysterious 
journals, who flock to La Mere Cadet, famous for 
stewed rabbit, genuine sauerkraut and a thin white 
wine with a smack of brimstone. 

Two or three stunted trees spread a few sickly 
green leaves over the heads of diners in the estab- 
lishment ; and beneath the shadow of these shrubs, 
known to frequenters of La Mere Cadet as " the 
grove," Schaunard now took his place. 

" My word! what must be, must!" said he to 
21 



The Latin Quarter 

himself. " Now for a biow-out, a private jollification 
all to myself." 

And without more ado, he called for soup, a half 
portion of sauerkraut and two half portions of 
stewed rabbit ; having remarked that in this case 
two halves are greater than the whole by at least 
a quarter. 

His order attracted the attention of a young 
person in white, with a wreath of orange blossoms 
in her hair ; she wore dancing slippers, and a veil 
of imitated imitation floated over a pair of shoulders 
which might have been suffered to preserve their 
incognito. She was a singer from the Theatre 
Montparnasse, where the wings are entrances, as 
one may say, of La M&re Cadet's kitchen. The lady 
having stepped in for refreshments between the acts 
of Lucia di Lammermoor was taking a half-cup of 
coffee, after a dinner composed simply and solely 
of an artichoke with oil and vinegar. 

" Two portions of stewed rabbit, the dog ! " she 
muttered to the waitress, "the young man goes in 
for high feeding. What is to pay, Adele ? " 

"One artichoke, four; one half-cup, four; and 
bread, one sou. Nine sous altogether." 

"Here it is," returned the vocalist, and out she 
went, humming, " Cet amour que Dieu me donne" 

"I say! She can take the la!" remarked a 
mysterious individual sitting at Schaunard's table 
behind a rampart of old books. 

"Take it ! " ejaculated Schaunard. "I rather 

think she takes it and keeps it to herself. Besides," 

he added, pointing to the plate on which Lucia di 

Lammermoor had just partaken of her artichoke, 

22 






The Brotherhood 

" nobody has any idea what it is to steep your head- 
notes in vinegar." 

11 It is a powerful acid, and that is a fact," ad- 
mitted the other. " The city of Orleans produces 
a brand which justly enjoys a great reputation." 

Schaunard took a closer look at this person, who 
angled thus for conversation. The fixed gaze of 
the man's big blue eyes, which always seemed to 
be looking out for something, gave to his face that 
expression of smug serenity which you may remark 
in the visages of seminarists. His complexion was 
of the colour of old ivory, except for a dab of 
opaque brick-red upon the cheeks ; his mouth might 
have been drawn by a student of the first principles 
of design (if somebody had given a jog to the 
draughtsman's elbow). The lips turned up a little, 
negro-fashion, disclosing a set of dog's teeth ; the 
double chin below reposed on the folds of a white 
cravat tied so that one end menaced the firmament 
while the other pointed to earth. The hair of this 
personage flowed in a yellow torrent from under the 
prodigious brim of a tawny-brown felt hat. He 
wore a long, nut-brown overcoat with a cape, a 
threadbare garment, rough as a nutmeg -grater. 
A mass of papers and pamphlets protruded from 
its yawning pockets. He sat with a book propped 
up before him on the table, careless of Schaunard's 
scrutiny, eating his choucrotite garnie with evident 
relish, for sounds of unqualified satisfaction escaped 
him at frequent intervals ; and now again, taking 
a pencil from behind his ear, he jotted down a note 
in the margin of the work which he was perusing. 

Schaunard all at once struck his knife against a 
23 



The Latin Quarter 

glass. "How about my stewed rabbit, eh?" he 
called. 

The waitress came up with a plate in her hand. 

1 * Monsieur," she said, "stewed rabbit is off the 
bill. Here is the last portion, and this gentleman 
ordered it," she added, setting it down in front of 
the man of books. 

" Sacrebleu ! " cried Schaunard. And in- that 
" Sacrebleu " there was such a depth of melancholy 
disappointment that it went to the heart of the man 
of books. He effected a breach in the rampart of 
volumes, and pushed the plate through the gap, 
saying in his most dulcet tones 

"May I venture, monsieur, to entreat you to 
share this dish with me ? " 

" I cannot think of depriving you of it, monsieur." 

"Then would you deprive me of the pleasure of 
obliging you, monsieur? " 

"Since you put it so, monsieur " And 

Schaunard held out his plate. 

"With your permission," observed the stranger, 
" I will not offer you the head." 

"Oh, monsieur," exclaimed Schaunard, "I shall 
not be the loser." 

But drawing back his plate he perceived that the 
stranger had helped him to the very morsel which 
he particularly desired (so he said) to keep for him- 
self. 

"Well, well," Schaunard growled inwardly, "what 
was he after, with his politeness ? " 

"If the head is the noblest part of man," con- 
tinued the other, " it is the most disagreeable member 
of the rabbit. So a great many persons cannot en- 
24 



The Brotherhood 

dure it. With me it is different ; I am extremely 
fond of it. " 

"In that case I feel the liveliest regret that you 
should have deprived yourself on my account." 

"What? Pardon me," said the man of books, 
" I kept the head for myself. I even had the honour 
to observe to you that - " 

"Allow me," said Schaunard, pushing his plate 
across for inspection. " What is this morsel ? " 

"Just heaven! What do I see? Ye gods! 
What, another head ! Tis a bicephalous rabbit ! " 



" cephalous. From the Greek. Indeed M. de 
Buffon (he who always wrote in full dress) cites 
examples of this natural curiosity. Well, upon 
my word ! I am not sorry to have partaken of the 
phenomenon." 

Thanks to this incident, conversation did not 
languish. Schaunard, not to be behindhand in 
civility, called for an extra bottle. The bookman 
ordered another. Schaunard contributed a salad 
to the feast; the bookman, dessert. By eight 
o'clock there were six empty bottles on the table. 
Communicativeness, watered by libations of thin 
liquor, had brought them both insensibly to the 
point of autobiography, and they were as well ac- 
quainted as if they had been brought up together. 
The bookman having listened to Schaunard's con- 
fidences, informed him in return that his name was 
Gustave Colline, that he exercised the profession of 
philosopher, and made a living by giving instruction 
in mathematics, pedagogy, botany and numerous 
other sciences which end 'my. 
25 



The Latin Quarter 

What little money Coiline made by giving lessons 
at pupils' residences, he spent upon old books. His 
long, nut-brown overcoat was known to every book- 
stall on the quays from the Pont de la Concorde 
to the Pont Saint Michel, where his purchases were 
so numerous that it would have taken a lifetime and 
more to read them through. Nobody, he himself 
least of all, could tell what he did with his books. 
But the hobby had grown to the dimensions of a 
passion, so that if he chanced to go home at night 
without a new acquisition, he would adopt the say- 
ing of the Emperor Titus, and cry, " I have lost the 
day ! " Schaunard was so fascinated by his engaging 
manners, by his talk (a mosaic of every known style), 
and by the atrocious puns which enlivened his con- 
versation, that he asked leave on the spot to add 
Colline's name to the famous list mentioned above. 
And when they left La Mere Cadet, towards nine 
o'clock, they had, to every appearance, carried on 
a dialogue with the bottle, and were passably dis- 
guised in liquor. 

Coiline proposed a cup of coffee, Schaunard 
agreed on condition that he should provide liqueurs. 
They turned accordingly into a cafe", at the sign of 
"Momus," god of Sports and Laughter,* in the 
Rue Saint Germain 1'Auxerrois. 

A lively discussion was going on, as they entered, 
between two frequenters of that public establish- 
ment. One of these was a young man whose face 
was completely lost to sight in the depths of an 
enormous bushy beard of various shades of colour. 
By way of contrast, however, to this prodigious 

* See CHAMPFLEURY, Les Confessions de Sylvius. 
26 



The Brotherhood 

growth on cheek and chin, premature baldness, 
setting in above, had left his forehead as bare as 
a knee, save for a few straggling hairs (so few that 
you might count them), which strove in vain to hide 
its nakedness. A black coat, tonsured at the elbows, 
gave glimpses of other openings for ventilation at 
the armholes, whenever the wearer raised his arms ; 
his trousers might possibly have been black, once ; 
but his boots had never been new, the Wandering 
Jew might have tramped two or three times round 
the world in them already. 

Schaunard noticed that his friend Colline ex- 
changed a greeting with this person. 

"Do you know that gentleman?" he asked the 
philosopher. 

"Not exactly," returned the other, "only I come 
across him sometimes at the Library. I believe he 
is a literary man." 

" His coat looks like it, at all events." 

The individual engaged in argument with the 
owner of the beard was a man of forty or so, 
marked out by nature, as it would seem, for an 
apoplectic seizure, to judge from the big head 
which reposed between his shoulders, without a 
neck between. "Idiocy" might be read in capital 
letters on the flattened forehead under his skull 
cap. M. Mouton for that was his name was 
registrar of deaths at the mayor's office, in the 
Fourth Arrondissement. 

" M. Rodolphe ! " he was exclaiming in a falsetto 

voice, while he seized the young man with a beard 

by a button and shook him, "do you wish to have 

my opinion? Very well. All the newspapers are 

27 



The Latin Quarter 

good for nothing. Look you here ! Suppose now 
I am the father of a family, hey ? Good ! And 
I drop into a cafe" for a game of dominoes. Do you 
follow me ? " 

"Go on, go on," said the person addressed as 
M. Rodolphe. 

"Well," continued old Mouton, punctuating his 
remarks by bringing his fist down on the table 
with a bang that set all the glasses and pint-pots 
trembling. "Well, I take a look at the papers. 
Good! What do I find? One says 'white' and 
another 'black.' Fiddle-diddle! What is that to 
me? I am a sober father of a family, coming here 
for " 

"A game of dominoes." 

"Every evening. Very well. Now, suppose, for 
the sake of saying something you understand ? " 

" Very well," said Rodolphe. 

" I read an article that I don't agree with. That 
puts me in a fury ; I get all of a fluster, because, 
look you, the newspapers are full of lies from be- 
ginning to end. Yes, lies ! " shrieked he in the 
shrillest, squeakiest notes of his squeaky voice, 
"and journalists are bandits, a set of paltry 
scriveners ! " 

"Still, M. Mouton " 

" Aye, bandits ! They are at the bottom of every- 
body's troubles ; they got up the Revolution and the 
assignats. Murat, now ; there's proof for you." 

"I beg your pardon," put in Rodolphe, "you 
mean Marat." 

" No, no, not at all. I mean Murat, for I saw his 

funeral myself as a boy " 

28 




The Brotherhood 



" I assure you- 



"The same that they made a play about at the 
Cirque. So there ! " 

"Well, well, just so. Murat it is." 

"Why, what have I been telling you this hour 
past?" cried the persistent Mouton. "Murat that 
used to write in a cellar, eh ? Well, suppose now 
weren't the Bourbons in the right of it to guillotine 
him when he was playing them false ? " 

"Guillotine him? Who? Played them false 
what ! " exclaimed Rodolphe, buttonholing M. 
Mouton in his turn. 

"Oh, well, Marat." 

"No, no, not at all, M. Mouton. You mean 
Murat! Hang it all! Let us know what we are 
talking about. " 

"Certainly. Marat, and a low scoundrel he was. 
Betrayed the Emperor in 1815. That is what makes 
me say that all newspapers are alike," added M. 
Mouton, returning to the theme which he had quitted 
for what he called an explanation. " For my own 
part, do you know what I should like, M. Rodolphe ? 
Well, let us suppose now I should like a good 
newspaper. Oh, not a big one. Good. No set 
phrases that's it ! " 

"You are very hard to please," put in Rodolphe. 
" A newspaper without set phrases ! " 

" Well, yes ; are you following my idea ? " 

" I am trying to." 

"A newspaper that just lets you know how the 

King is and about the crops. For after all, what 

is the good of all your gazettes, when nobody can 

make anything out of them? Suppose now that 

29 



The Latin Quarter 

I am in the mayor's office, am I not ? I am registrar. 
Good ! Well, it is as if people came and said to me, 
'M. Mouton, you register deaths ; very well, do this 
and do that.' Very well ; what this, eh? and that, 
eh ? Well, and it is the same thing with the news- 
papers," he concluded. 

"Evidently," put in a neighbour, who had under- 
stood him. And M. Mouton went back to his game 
of dominoes amid the congratulations of those who 
shared his opinions. 

"I have put him in his place," he remarked, in- 
dicating Rodolphe, who had gone to join Schaunard 
and Colline at their table. 

" What a dolt ! " said Colline, glancing across at 
the registrar. 

" He has a good head, with his eyelids like a 
carriage-hood, and eyes like loto-knobs," remarked 
Schaunard, drawing out a wonderfully coloured 
cutty-pipe. 

" By Jove, monsieur, you have a very pretty pipe 
there ! " remarked Rodolphe. 

" Oh, I have a still better one for great occasions," 
Schaunard answered carelessly. " Just pass me the 
tobacco, Colline." 

"There!" cried the philosopher, "I have none left." 

' 'Allow me," said Rodolphe, pulling a packet out 
of his pocket and laying it on the table. 

Colline thought he ought to respond to this act 
of courtesy by the offer of a drink. 

Rodolphe accepted. The conversation turned upon 
literature. Rodolphe, questioned as to his profession, 
confessed (for his clothes betrayed him) to his re- 
lations with the Muses, and stood drinks all round. 
30 



The Brotherhood 

The waiter was going to take the bottle away, but 
Schaunard requested him to be so kind as to over- 
look it. Two five-franc pieces were jingling in one 
of Colline's pockets, and the silvery sound of the 
duet had reached Schaunard's ears. Rodolphe 
meanwhile quickly overtook his friends, reached the 
point of expansiveness, and poured out confidences 
in his turn. 

The trio would, no doubt, have spent the rest of 
the night in the cafe", if they had not been requested 
to leave. Outside in the street, they had scarcely 
gone ten paces (which distance was accomplished 
in about a quarter of an hour) when they were 
overtaken by a deluge of rain. Colline and Rodolphe 
lived at opposite ends of Paris ; the former in the 
He Saint Louis, the latter at Montmartre. As for 
Schaunard, he had completely forgotten that he had 
no lodging at all, and offered his friends hospitality. 

"Come home with me," he said; "I lodge near 
by, and we will spend the night in talking literature 
and art." 

"You shall play for us," said Colline, "and 
Rodolphe will recite his own poetry.", 

"Faith, yes," added Schaunard, " we must laugh ; 
we can only live once." 

Schaunard had some little difficulty in recognising 
his house ; but arrived in front of it, he sat down 
for a moment on a kerbstone, while his friends went 
over to a wine-shop, which still kept open, in search 
of the first elements of supper. On their return 
Schaunard rapped several times on the door, for he 
had a dim recollection that the porters always kept 
him waiting. At last it opened. Old Durand, in 



The Latin Quarter 

the balmy depths of his beauty sleep, forgot that 
Schaunard had ceased to be an inmate of his house, 
and heard the name called without putting himself 
out in the least. 

The ascent of the stairs was a slow and no less diffi- 
cult business. Schaunard went first, but on arriving 
on the top landing he found a key already in the lock 
of his door, and uttered a cry of astonishment. 

" What is the matter? " asked Rodolphe. 

"I can make nothing of this," murmured 
Schaunard; "the key that I carried off with me 
this morning is here sticking in the lock ! Ha ! 
we shall soon see. I put it in my pocket. Eh, by 
Jove ! and here it is, too ! " he cried, holding it up. 

" It is witchcraft ! " 

" It is a phantasmagoria ! " (from Colline). 

" A fancy ! " (from Rodolphe). 

" But," demurred Schaunard, with growing terror 
audible in his voice, " but, do you hear that?" 

"What?" 

1 'What?" 

" My piano, playing all by itself ut, la, mi, re, 
do, la, si, sol, re. Rascally re, that it is ! It never 
will keep in tune." 

"This is not your room, of course," said 
Rodolphe ; and leaning heavily on Colline, he 
whispered, " he is drunk." 

"I think so. In the first place, that is not a 
piano ; it is a flute." 

"Why, you are drunk too, my dear fellow," said 
the poet to the philosopher, who by this time was 
sitting on the floor. " It is a violin ! " 

"A v fiddle-de-dee! I say, Schaunard," 
32 



The Brotherhood 

stammered Colline, pulling his friend by the legs, 
''that is good, is that! Here is this gentleman 
saying that it is a vio " 

"Confound it!" cried Schaunard, frightened out 
of his wits, "there is my piano playing away; it is 
witchcraft ! " 

"Phantasma goria ! " howled Colline, letting a 
bottle fall on the floor. 

" Fancy ! " yelled Rodolphe in his turn. 

In the middle of the hubbub the door suddenly 
opened, and somebody appeared upon the threshold, 
holding a candle-sconce in which three pink candles 
were burning. 

"What do you want, gentlemen?" he asked, 
bowing politely to the three friends. 

"Oh, heaven! What have I done? I have 
made a mistake. This isn't my room," exclaimed 
Schaunard. 

"Be so good as to excuse my friend, monsieur," 
cried Rodolphe and Colline, speaking both at once. 
" He is more than half seas over." 

All at once a gleam of lucidity crossed Schaunard's 
tipsy brain ; he had just read an inscription chalked 
upon his door : 

' f I have been here three times for my New Year's 
gift. "PHEMIE." 

"Yes," cried he, "I do live here. That is the 
very visiting card which Phe"mie left me on New 
Year's Day. This is my door; it is, indeed." 

"Dear me, monsieur," protested Rodolphe, "I 
feel truly confused." 

"Believe me, monsieur," Colline added, "my 

33 



The Latin Quarter 

friend in his confusion has in me an energetic 
collaborator." 

The man in the doorway burst out laughing in 
spite of himself. 

"If you will step into my room for a moment," he 
said, " your friend will find out his mistake, no doubt, 
as soon as he sees the place. " 

"With pleasure." And the poet, taking one of 
Schaunard's arms and the philosopher the other, 
they brought him into the room, or, to be accurate, 
into Marcel's palace, which the reader has doubtless 
recognised. 

Schaunard, gazing vaguely about him, muttered 

" It is astonishing how the place is improved." 

"Well, are you convinced now?" asked Colline. 

But Schaunard had caught sight of the piano, and 
going up to it, tried over a scale or two. 

" Eh ! just listen to that now, all of you ! " he 
said, striking chord after chord. "That is right! 
The animal knows its master : si la sol, fa mi r. 
Ah, rascally re! Always the same, that it is ! I told 
you it was my piano." 

" He persists," said Colline to Rodolphe. 

"He persists," said Rodolphe, turning to Marcel. 

" That now," added Schaunard, pointing to the 
spangled petticoat lying on a chair, "that is not my 
ornament, perhaps ? Oho ! " 

And he looked Marcel between the eyes. 

"And that " he continued, pulling down the 

summons, of which mention has been made pre- 
viously, and proceeding to read it aloud 

"'Wherefore M. Schaunard is bound to remove 
his effects, and to leave the premises in tenantable 
34 



The Brotherhood 

repair, before noon on the eighth day of April. Due 
notice having been served on him by me, for which 
the cost is five francs.' Aha! so I am not M. 
Schaunard, who was served with a notice by a 
bailiff, and received the honour of a stamp worth 
five francs ? There again ! " he cried, as he caught 
sight of his slippers on Marcel's feet, " so those 
are not my Turkish slippers which beloved hands 
bestowed on me? Monsieur," he added, addressing 
Marcel, " will you in your turn explain your presence 
among my Lares? " 

" Gentlemen," replied Marcel, addressing himself 
more particularly to Colline and Rodolphe, ''this 
gentleman" (indicating Schaunard) "is, I confess, 
in his own room." 

" Ha ! " cried Schaunard, " that is lucky ! " 

" But," resumed Marcel, " so am I." 

"Still, monsieur," Rodolphe broke in, "if our 
friend recognises " 



Yes," said Colline, "if our friend- 



"And if you on your side recollect," added 
Rodolphe, "how comes it that 



Yes," echoed Colline, "how comes it- 



"Will you kindly sit down, gentlemen?" replied 
Marcel, "and I will clear up the mystery." 

" Suppose we moisten the explanation ? " hazarded 
Colline. 

"And take a bit to eat," added Rodolphe. 

With that they all four sat down to table and 
attacked the piece of cold veal bought at the wine- 
shop, while Marcel proceeded to narrate what had 
passed that morning between him and the landlord 
when he came to move in. 
35 



The Latin Quarter 

" So," said Rodolphe, " this gentleman is perfectly 
right. This is his room. " 

4 'Pray consider yourself at home in it," Marcel 
returned politely. 

But it was only after immense trouble that 
Schaunard could be got to understand what had 
happened, and a comical incident still further com- 
plicated matters. Schaunard was looking for some- 
thing in a wall cupboard when he came upon some 
money ; it was the change which M. Bernard had 
given for the five-hundred franc bill. 

"Ah, I knew it ! " he cried ; " I knew that Chance 
would not leave me in the lurch ! I remember now ! 
I went out this morning to look him up. He must 
have come in while I was out, as it was quarter- 
day. We crossed each other on the way, that is all. 
What a good thing I left the key in the drawer ! " 

" Sweet delusion!" murmured Rodolphe, as he 
saw Schaunard dividing the coins into equal piles. 

" Illusion, delusion, such is life ! " added the 
philosopher. 

Marcel laughed. 

An hour later all four were fast asleep. 

Next day at noon they awoke, and at first seemed 
very much surprised at the company in which they 
found themselves. Schaunard, Colline and Rodolphe 
looked as though they had never met before, and 
addressed each other as "Monsieur." Marcel was 
obliged to remind them that they all came in together 
the night before. 

Old Durand came in at that very moment. 

"Monsieur," said he, addressing Marcel, "to-day 
36 



The Brotherhood 

is the ninth of April, eighteen hundred and forty . . . 
the streets are muddy, and His Majesty Louis 
Philippe is still King of France and Navarre. 
What next ! " he exclaimed, catching sight of his 
former lodger. " M. Schaunard ! Why how did 
you get in ? " 

" By telegraph," said Schaunard. 

4 'But I say," continued old Durand, " you are 
a droll one, you are " 

" Durand," said Marcel, "I do not care to have 
my man-servant join in conversation when I am 
present. Go to the restaurant near by and order 
in breakfast for four persons. Here is the menu," 
he added, holding out a slip of paper. "Now 
go." 

" You invited me to supper last night, gentlemen," 
Marcel went on, addressing his visitors, "allow me 
to offer you luncheon this morning, not in my room, 
but in yours," he added, holding out his hand to 
Schaunard. 

Luncheon over, Rodolphe asked permission to 
speak. 

"Gentlemen," he began, "permit me to leave 
you " 

"Oh, no," Schaunard said in a sentimental tone, 
" let us never part again ! " 

"True, it is very pleasant here," assented Colline. 

" to leave you for a moment," continued 

Rodolphe. "The Iris, a journal devoted to the 
fashions, appears to-morrow. I, as editor, must 
go and correct my proofs, but I will be back in an 
hour." 

"The deuce!" cried Colline, "that reminds me 
37 



The Latin Quarter 

I have a lesson to give to an Indian prince who has 
come to Paris to learn Arabic." 

"You can go to-morrow," said Marcel. 

" Oh no, the prince ought to pay me to-day. And 
besides, I must confess that this beautiful day would 
be completely spoilt for me if I did not take a look 
round the second-hand book market." 

" But you are coming back? " queried Schaunard. 

' ' With the swiftness of a dart sped by a sure 
hand," returned the philosopher, who loved eccentric 
metaphors. 

And he went out with Rodolphe. Schaunard and 
Marcel were left alone together. 

* ' By-the-by, " remarked the former, "how if 
instead of reclining upon the pillow of far niente I 
should issue forth in quest of gold wherewith to 
allay M. Bernard's cupidity ? " 

"Why, do you still contemplate moving out?" 
Marcel asked uneasily. 

" Lord ! yes, there is no help for it," said 
Schaunard. "I have had notice to quit served 
on me by a bailiff at a cost of five francs." 

" But if you are moving out, are you going to 
take away your furniture ? " 

"That is what I purpose to do ; I am not going 
to leave a hair, as M. Bernard says." 

"The devil! then I shall be in a fix," said 
Marcel, "for I took your room as a furnished 
apartment." 

" Stay a bit, though ! true ; aye, so it is," returned 
Schaunard. "Pshaw," he added ruefully, "there 
is nothing to show that I shall find my seventy francs 
to-day, or to-morow, or the next day." 
38 



ie Brotherhood 



"Hold on, though," cried Marcel, "I have an 
idea." 

" Produce it," said Schaunard. 

"This is the situation: legally speaking, this 
lodging is mine, for I paid a month's rent in 
advance." 

" The room, yes ; but as to the furniture, if I pay 
I have a legal right to remove it ; and if I could, 
I would even remove it illegally," said Schaunard. 

"So as it stands," continued Marcel, "you have 
furniture, and nowhere to put it ; and I have a room, 
and nothing to put in it." 

"That is it." 

"For my own part, I like this room," continued 
Marcel. 

"So do I," put in Schaunard, " never liked it like 
this before." 

"What do you say?" 

" Liked it like, for liked it so much. Oh, I know 
my native language ! " 

"Well, so we can settle these matters," Marcel 
went on. " Stay with me ; I will find the lodgings, 
and you shall find the furniture." 

" And how about the rent ? " 

" I will pay what is owing, as I have money just 
now. It will be your turn next time. Consider it." 

" I never consider anything, especially if it is an 
offer that suits me. I accept out of hand. Music 
and painting are, in fact, sisters." 

"Sisters-in-law,"* rejoined Marcel, and at that 
moment Colline and Rodolphe came in together. 
They had met on the way. 

* Belle-soeurs. 
39 



The Latin Quarter 

"Gentlemen," cried Rodolphe, jingling the money 
in his pockets, " I propose that those present should 
dine with me." 

"That is precisely what I was about to have the 
honour to propose myself," said Colline, pulling a 
gold piece out of his pocket and sticking it in his 
eye. "My prince gave me this to buy a Hindostanee- 
Arabic grammar, for which I have just paid six sous 
sterling." 

"And I got the cashier of the Iris to let me have 
thirty francs in advance, on the pretext that I wanted 
the money to get myself vaccinated. " 

"It is pay day, it seems," remarked Schaunard, 
" I am the only one that has not taken handsel. It 
is humiliating." 

" Meantime, my offer of dinner is still open," 
repeated Rodolphe. 

" So is mine," said Colline. 

"Very well, let us toss to see who shall pay the 
bill." 

"No," cried Schaunard, "I know a better way 
than that ; an infinitely better way of getting out of 
the difficulty." 

" Let us see it ! " 

"Rodolphe shall give the dinner and Colline will 
entertain us at supper." 

"That is what I call the wisdom of Solomon," 
cried the philosopher. 

"It is worse than Gamacho's wedding-feast," 
added Marcel. 

The dinner duly took place in a Provencal 
restaurant in the Rue Dauphine, well known for 
its ayoli and the literary tastes of its waiters. As 
40 



The Brotherhood 

it was expedient to leave room for supper, they 
ate and drank in moderation. The acquaintance 
begun the previous evening between Colline and 
Schaunard, and later still with Marcel, was ripening 
into intimacy. Each one of the party hoisted the 
flag of his opinions on art, and all four discovered 
that they possessed the same courage and the same 
hope. In the course of chat and discussion they 
perceived that they had sympathies in common ; 
they all had the same turn for the light and dexter- 
ous word-play which raises laughter and leaves no 
wounds ; and lastly, that all the fair virtues of youth 
had by no means departed from them and left their 
hearts empty, for they were readily moved by any- 
thing beautiful which they heard or saw. And since 
all four had left a common starting-point to reach 
the same goal, it seemed to them that it was 
something more than a mere everyday quid pro quo 
of Chance, which had brought them thus together ; 
was it not quite possible that it might be Provi- 
dence, who watches over those left to themselves, 
that had joined their hands and whispered in their 
ears the Evangelist's words, " Love one another. 
Bear ye one another's burdens," sayings which 
ought to constitute the one and only Charter of 
Humanity ? 

The end of the meal found them almost grave. 
When Rodolphe got up and proposed that they 
should drink to the Future, Colline replied with 
a little speech that certainly was not taken out 
of an old book, nor had any pretension to style. 
He spoke quite simply in that artless vernacular 
which tells so well what is said so ill. 
41 



The Latin Quarter 

"What a fool the philosopher is!" muttered 
Schaunard, bending over his glass. " He has made 
me mix water with my wine." 

After dinner they went to the Cafe a Momus, where 
they had spent the previous evening. From that day 
the establishment became uninhabitable for the rest 
of its patrons. 

Coffee and liqueurs despatched, the Bohemian 
clan (now definitely founded) returned to Marcel's 
quarters, which received the name of " Schaunard's 
Elysium." Colline went out to order the promised 
supper, and the rest, meanwhile, provided them- 
selves with crackers, rockets, and other pyrotechnical 
devices. These they let off from the windows before 
sitting down to supper ; and the magnificent dis- 
play fairly turned the house upside down, the four 
friends singing at the top of their voices 

" Let us celebrate this great day ! " 

Next morning they again found themselves to- 
gether, but this time it did not cause them any 
astonishment. Before separating for the business 
of the day they shared a frugal lunch at the Cafe 
Momus, where they agreed to meet again in the 
evening. For a long time they kept to this daily 
routine. 

These then are the characters who will pass in 
and out of the short stories which form this book. 
It is not a novel, and has no other pretension than 
that indicated by its title, for the Scenes of Bohemian 
Life are but studies of people belonging to a class 
hitherto misunderstood, whose chief fault is irregu- 
larity. Still, they can say in excuse that this 
irregularity is a necessity of their life. 
42 



II 

A MESSENGER OF PROVIDENCE 

Q CH AUNARD and Marcel, after working valiantly 
C3 all the morning, had come to a sudden stop. 

" How hungry it is, by Jove ! " exclaimed Schau- 
nard ; then he added carelessly, "is there not to be 
any lunch to-day? " 

Never was question more inopportunely raised, 
and Marcel seemed very much astonished by it. 

" Since when have we begun to lunch two days in 
succession ? " he demanded. * * Yesterday was Thurs- 
day." And he rounded out this observation by 
pointing with his mahl-stick to the commandment 
of the Church 

"Thou shalt eat no meat of a Friday, 
Nor anything resembling- thereunto." 

Schaunard, having no answer to make to this, 
betook himself again to his picture, which repre- 
sented a plain with a blue tree and a red tree 
stretching out their branches to shake hands with 
one another a transparent allusion to the delights 
of friendship which, notwithstanding, contained a 
good deal of philosophy. 

Just at that moment someone knocked at the 
door ; it was the porter with a letter for Marcel. 

" Three sous to pay," added the man. 

" Are you sure? " asked the artist. " Good, then 
43 



The Latin Quarter 

we will owe you the money," and he shut the door 
in his face. 

Marcel meanwhile had broken the seal. At the 
very first words he began to skip like an acrobat 
about the studio, thundering out with all his might 
the following well-known ballad, which, with him, 
denoted the highest possible pitch of jubilation 

" ' There were four young men of the neighbourhood, 
Who all fell ill, as I've understood ; 
So they took them off to the hospital 
Al! al! al! al ! ' " 

"Well, yes," said Schaunard, taking it up. 

' ' They laid them all in a full-sized bed, 
Two at the foot and two at the head.' 

" We know that." 

" ' And a little Sister came that way 
Ay ! ay ! ay ! ay ! ' " 

continued Marcel. 

" If you do not hold your tongue, I shall begin to 
play the allegro from my symphony on * The In- 
fluence of Blue in the Arts,'" said Schaunard, who 
already felt symptoms of mental derangement ; and 
he made for the piano. 

The threat produced the effect of a little cold 
water poured into a boiling pot ; Marcel calmed 
down as though by enchantment. 

"There!" he said, handing over the letter. 
"Look!" 

It was an invitation to dine with a deputy, an 
enlightened patron of the arts, and of Marcel in 
particular, who had painted a picture of his country 
house. 

44 



A Messenger of Providence 

"If it is for to-day, it is unlucky that the card 
will not admit two persons," remarked Schaunard ; 
"but now I come to think of it, your deputy is 
'Ministerialist. You cannot, you ought not, to ac- 
cept ; for your principles forbid your eating" bread 
soaked in the sweat of the people's brows." 

"Pooh!" said Marcel, "my deputy is Centre 
Left ; he voted against the Government the other 
day. Besides, he ought to put me in the way of a 
commission, and he promised to give me some intro- 
ductions. What is more, you see, I am as ravenous 
as Ugolino. Friday or no, I mean to dine to-day, so 
there it is ! " 

"There are other things in the way," Schaunard 
went on, being, in fact, a trifle jealous of his friend's 
windfall. " You cannot possibly go out to dine in a 
short red jacket and a bargeman's cap." 

" I am going to Colline's or Rodolphe's to borrow 
some clothes." 

" Insensate youth ! Have you forgotten that we 
have passed the twentieth day of the month? By 
this time any articles of apparel belonging to those 
gentlemen will have been spouted over and over 
again." 

" I shall find a black coat, anyhow, by five 
o'clock," said Marcel. 

" It took me three weeks to find one to wear at 
my cousin's wedding, and that was in the beginning 
of January." 

"Very well, I shall go as I am," retorted Marcel, 
striding up and down. "It shall not be said that 
paltry considerations of etiquette prevented me from 
making my first step into society." 
45 



The Latin Quarter 

"By the way, how about boots?" put in Schau- 
nard, who seemed greatly to enjoy his friend's 
chagrin. 

Marcel went out in a state of agitation impossible 
to describe. 

In two hours' time he came back with a linen 
collar. 

" It was all I could find," he said mournfully. 

"It was not worth while to run about for so 
little. There is paper enough here to make a 
dozen." 

Marcel tore his hair. " Hang it all, but we must 
have some things here ! " he cried. 

A strict search, pursued for the space of an hour 
through every corner of both rooms, yielded a 
costume thus composed : 

A pair of plaid trousers. 

A grey hat. 

A red cravat. 

One glove, which had once been white. 

One black glove. 

"They will make a pair at a pinch," suggested 
Schaunard. " By the time you are dressed you will 
look like the solar spectrum. But what is that, 
when one is a colourist?" 

Marcel meanwhile was trying on the boots. By 
some unlucky chance both belonged to the same 
foot! 

Then, in his despair, Marcel bethought himself of 
an old boot lying in a corner a receptacle for spent 
bladders of paint. On this he seized. 

"From Garrick to Syllabus" was his friend's 
ironical comment ; " one is pointed at the toes, and 
the other square." 

46 



A Messenger of Providence 

" No one will see it ; I am going to varnish them." 

" What a notion ! Now you only want a regula- 
tion dress-coat." 

"Oh, look here!" groaned Marcel, biting his 
hand, "I would give ten years of my life and my 
right hand for one ! " 

There was another knock at the door. Marcel 
went to open it. 

" M. Schaunard?" said a stranger, pausing on 
the threshold. 

"I am he," said the painter, and begged him to 
enter. 

1 'Monsieur," began the stranger, whose honest 
countenance marked him out as a typical provincial, 
"my cousin has been talking a good deal of your 
talent as a portrait painter, and as I am just about 
to start on a voyage to the colonies as delegate of 
the sugar refiners of Nantes, I should like to leave 
a souvenir with my family. So I have come to look 
you up." 

" Oh, sacred Providence!" muttered Schaunard. 
" Marcel, hand a chair to Monsieur " 

"M. Blancheron," the stranger continued. "Blan- 
cheron of Nantes, delegate of the sugar industry, 

formerly Mayor of V , Captain in the National 

Guard, and author of a pamphlet on the sugar 
question." 

" I feel greatly honoured by being chosen by you," 
said the artist, bowing before the refiners' delegate. 
" How do you wish to have your portrait painted? " 

" In miniature, like that," rejoined M. Blancheron, 
pointing to an oil portrait (for to the worthy delegate, 
as to a good many other people, there are but two 
47 



The Latin Quarter 

kinds of paintings house and miniature ; there is 
no middle term). 

This artless reply gave Schaunard the measure of 
the good soul with whom he had to do, especially 
when M. Blancheron added that he wished to have 
his portrait done in fine colours. 

"I never use any other kind," said Schaunard. 
''How large do you desire to have your portrait, 
monsieur? " 

"As big as that one," said M. Blancheron, point- 
ing to a canvas in the studio. " But what price 
does that come to ? " 

" Fifty to sixty francs ; sixty with hands included, 
fifty without." 

" The devil ! my cousin talked about thirty 
francs." 

" It varies with the season," rejoined the painter, 
"colours are much dearer at some times than at 
others." 

" Why, then, it is like sugar ! " 

"Exactly." 

" Let it be fifty francs, then," said M. Blancheron. 

"You are making a mistake. For another ten 
francs the hands could be put in ; and I should paint 
you holding your pamphlet on the sugar question, 
which would be very gratifying to you." 

" Upon my word, you are right." 

"By Jove!" said Schaunard to himself, "if he 
keeps on at this, I shall burst ; and somebody may 
be hurt with the pieces." 

"Did you notice?" Marcel continued to whisper. 

"What?" 

" He has a black coat." 
48 



A Messenger of Providence 

11 1 comprehend, and I enter into your ideas. 
Leave it to me." 

4 'Well, monsieur," said the delegate, " when 
shall we begin? We must not leave it too long, 
for I start almost directly." 

"I am going on a short journey myself; I am 
leaving Paris the day after to-morrow. So we can 
begin at once, if you like. A great deal can be 
done in one good sitting." 

" But it will be dark directly, and you cannot 
paint by artificial light," said M. Blancheron. 

"My studio is so arranged that you can work in 
it at any time. If you like to take off your coat 
and sit, we can begin now." 

' * Take off my coat ? Why ? " 

''Did you not tell me that you wanted a portrait 
to give to your family? " 

"Certainly." 

" Well, then, you ought to be painted in the dress 
you wear at home in your dressing-gown. Besides, 
it is usual to do so." 

" But I have not my dressing-gown with me." 

" I keep one on purpose," said Schaunard, pre- 
senting to his model's gaze a ragged object be- 
spattered with paint. At sight of it the provincial 
appeared to hesitate. 

" It is a strange-looking garment," he began. 

"And very valuable," rejoined the painter. "A 
Turkish vizier presented it to M. Horace Vernet, 
by whom it was given to me. I am a pupil of his." 

"Are you one of Vernet's pupils?" asked Blan- 
cheron. 

" I am, monsieur, I am proud to say. (Horrors ! " 
E 49 



The Latin Quarter 

he muttered to himself, "I am denying my 
gods.") 

"And well you may be, young man," returned 
the delegate, enveloping himself in a dressing-gown 
of such distinguished antecedents. 

" Hang M. Blancheron's coat up," said Schaunard, 
with a significant wink to his friend. 

Marcel flew upon his prey. " I say," he mur- 
mured, " this is something very good. Could you 
not keep a bit for me ? " 

" I will try, but let that be ; dress quickly, and be 
off. Come back at ten o'clock, I will keep him here 
till then. And on no account forget to bring me 
something back in your pockets." 

" I will bring you a pineapple," said Marcel as he 
went. 

The coat was hastily slipped on (it fitted him like 
a glove), and he departed by another door. 

Schaunard meanwhile got to work. As it grew 
quite dark and the clocks struck six, M. Blancheron 
recollected that he had not dined. He made an 
observation to this effect. 

"I am in the same case," said Schaunard, "but 
to oblige you I will dispense with dinner this even- 
ing, though I have an invitation to a house in the 
Faubourg Saint Germain. We cannot be disturbed 
now, it might spoil the likeness, "and he set to work 
again. 

"By-the-by," he added suddenly, "we can dine 
without putting ourselves about. There is a very 
good restaurant below ; they will send us up any- 
thing we like"; and Schaunard watched the effect of 
this trio of " we's." 

So 



A Messenger of Providence 

" I am quite of your opinion," said M. Blan- 
cheron, "and on the other hand, I shall be glad 
to think that you will do me the honour of keeping 
me company at table." 

Schaunard bowed. 

"Come!" he said to himself, "this is a good 
man, a real messenger of Providence. Will you 
give the order? " he asked his host. 

"You will oblige me by undertaking it yourself," 
the other returned politely. 

" Tu fen repentiras Nicolas" sang the painter as 
he skipped downstairs four steps at a time. 

Entering the restaurant, he betook himself to the 
counter, where he drew up such a menu that the 
Vatel of the establishment read it with blanched 
cheeks. 

" Bordeaux, as usual." 

" Who is going to pay me? " 

"Not I, probably," said Schaunard, "but mine 
uncle, an epicure ; you will see him upstairs. So 
try to distinguish yourself, and let us have dinner 
served up in half an hour ; and on porcelain, that is 
most important." 



At eight o'clock that night M. Blancheron had 
already begun to feel the need of some friendly 
bosom on which to pour out all his ideas on the 
sugar industry, and recited his pamphlet aloud to 
a pianoforte accompaniment by Schaunard. 

At ten o'clock M. Blancheron and his friend 
danced a galop together, and thee and thoued each 
other freely. At eleven they swore never to part, 



The Latin Quarter 

and each made a will leaving the whole of his 
fortune to the other. 

At midnight Marcel came in and found them 
weeping in each other's arms and the studio half 
an inch deep in water already. Stumbling against 
the table, he discovered the remains of a splendid 
banquet, and looking at the bottles saw that they 
were all perfectly empty. 

Then he tried to wake Schaunard, but that 
worthy, with his head pillowed on M. Blancheron, 
threatened to kill him if he took his friend away 
from him. 

" Ingrate ! " was Marcel's comment, as he drew 
a handful of hazel nuts from his coat pocket, "and 
I was bringing him home something for dinner ! " 



Ill 

LENTEN LOVES 

ONE evening in Lent Rodolphe went home 
early intending to work. But scarcely had 
he sat down and dipped his pen in the ink when he 
was disturbed by an unusual sound. Applying his 
ear ito the indiscreet partition wall, he could hear 
and distinguish perfectly well an onomatopoetic dia- 
logue carried on principally in kisses in the next 
room. 

"Confound it ! " thought Rodolphe as he glanced 
at the clock. "It is early yet, and my fair neigh- 
bour is a Juliet who seldom permits her Romeo to 
depart with the lark. It is impossible to work to- 
night." So taking up his hat he sallied forth. 

As he stepped into the porter's lodge to hang up 
his key, he found the portress half imprisoned by 
the arm of a gallant. The poor woman was so 
overcome that it was fully five minutes before she 
could pull the door-string. 

"It is a fact," mused Rodolphe, "there are 
moments when portresses become mere women." 

He opened the street door, and lo ! in the corner, 
a fireman and a cook-maid were exchanging a pre- 
liminary token of affection, standing there holding 
each other by the hand. 

" Egad ! " cried he, as he thought of the warrior 
53 



The Latin Quarter 

and his stalwart companion, "here be heretics, who 
scarcely so much as know that Lent has begun." 
And he made for the lodging of a friend in the 
neighbourhood. 

44 If Marcel is at home, we will spend the evening 
in abusing Colline," said he to himself. " One must 
do something, after all." 

After a vigorous rapping, the door at length stood 
ajar, and a young man simply dressed in little but a 
shirt and a pair of eye-glasses put his head out. 

44 1 cannot ask you to come in," said this person. 

44 Why not? " demanded Rodolphe. 

44 There!" said Marcel, as a feminine head ap- 
peared from behind a curtain, 44 that is my answer." 

44 And not a handsome one," was Rodolphe's 
retort after the door had been shut in his face. 
44 So," said he to himself when he turned into the 
street, 44 what next? Suppose I go to Colline's? 
We could put in the time abusing Marcel." 

But as Rodolphe traversed the Rue de 1'Ouest, a 
dark street and little frequented at any time, he 
perceived a shadowy figure prowling about in a 
melancholy manner, muttering rimes between its 
teeth. 

44 Hey day ! " said Rodolphe, " who is this Sonnet, 
dancing attendance here ? Why, Colline ! " 

44 Why, Rodolphe ! Where are you going ? " 

44 To your rooms." 

44 You will not find me there." 

44 What are you doing here ? " 

4 'Waiting." 

44 And for what?" 

44 Ha ! " cried Colline, breaking into mock-heroics. 
54 



Lenten Loves 

" For what does one wait, when one is twenty years 
old, and there are stars in heaven and songs in the 
air?" 

" Speak in prose." 

" I am waiting for a lady." 

"Good night," returned Rodolphe, and he made 
off, talking to himself. " Bless me ! is it St. Cupid's 
Day, and can I scarcely take a step without jostling 
a pair of lovers ? This is scandalous and immoral ! 
What can the police be doing? " 

As the Luxembourg Gardens were still open, 
Rodolphe took the short cut across them. All along 
the quieter alleys he saw mysterious couples with 
their arms about each other flit before him, as if 
scared away by the sound of his footsteps, to seek, 
in the language of the poet, the double sweetness 
of silence and shade. 

" It is an evening out of a novel," said Rodolphe ; 
but the languorous charm grew upon him in spite of 
himself, and sitting down on a bench, he looked 
sentimentally up at the moon. 

After a time he felt as if some feverish dream had 
taken possession of him. It seemed to him that the 
marble population of gods and heroes were coming 
down from their pedestals to pay their court to their 
neighbours the goddesses and heroines of the 
gardens ; indeed, he distinctly heard the big Her- 
cules singing a madrigal to Velleda, and thought 
that the Druidess's tunic looked unusually short. 
From his seat on the bench he watched the swan in 
the fountain glide across towards a nymph on the 
bank. 

"Good!" thought Rodolphe, prepared to believe 
55 



The Latin Quarter 

in the whole heathen mythology. "There goes 
Jupiter to a tryst with Leda ! If only the police do 
not interfere ! " 

Resting his forehead on his hands, he deliberately 
pushed further into the briar-rose wood of senti- 
mentality. But at the finest point in his dream 
Rodolphe was suddenly awakened by a tap on the 
shoulder from a policeman. 

"Time to go out, sir," said the man. 

"A good thing too," thought Rodolphe. " If I 
had stayed here for another five minutes I should 
have had more vergiss-mein-nicht in my heart than 
ever grew on the banks of the Rhine, or even in 
Alphonse Karr's novels." And he made all haste 
out of the Luxembourg Gardens, humming in his 
deep bass voice a sentimental tune which he re- 
garded as the lover's " Marseillaise." 

Half an hour after, in some unexplained way, he 
found himself at the " Prado," sitting at a table with 
a glass of punch before him, and chatting with a tall 
young fellow, famous for his nose a feature which 
possessed the singular quality of looking aquiline 
in profile and like a snub nose when seen full face ; 
a nose of noses not without sense, with a sufficient 
experience of love affairs to be able to give sound 
counsel in such cases and to do a friend a good 
turn. 

" So you are in love? " Alexandre Schaunard (the 
owner of the nose) was saying. 

"Yes, my dear boy. It came on quite suddenly 
just now, like a bad toothache in your heart." 

" Pass the tobacco," said Alexandre. 

"Imagine it!" continued Rodolphe. "I have 
56 



Lenten Loves 

met nothing but lovers for the past two hours men 
and women by twos and twos. I took it into my 
head to go into the Luxembourg, and there I saw 
all sorts of phantasmagoria, which stirred my heart 
in an extraordinary way, and set me composing 
elegies. I bleat and I coo I am being metamor- 
phosed ; I am half lamb, half pigeon. Just look at 
me ; I must be covered with wool and feathers ! " 

" What can you have been drinking? " Alexandre 
put in impatiently. "You are hoaxing me, that is 
what it is." 

" I am quite cool and composed, I assure you," 
said Rodolphe. "That is, I am not; but I am 
going to inform you that I long for a mate. Man 
should not live alone, you see, Alexandre ; in a word, 
you must help me to find a wife. . . . We will take a 
turn round the dancing saloon, and you must go to 
the first girl that I point out to you, and tell her 
that I am in love with her." 

"Why don't you go and tell her so yourself?" 
returned Alexandre in his splendid nasal bass. 

"Eh, my dear boy! I assure you I have quite 
forgotten how these things are done. Friends 
have always written the opening chapters of all 
my love stones for me ; sometimes they have even 
done the conclusions too. But I never could begin 
myself! " 

" If you know how to end, it will do," said Alex- 
andre ; "but I know what you mean. I have seen 
a girl with a taste for the oboe ; you might perhaps 
suit her." 

"Oh," answered Rodolphe, " I should like her to 
wear white gloves, and she should have blue eyes." 
57 



The Latin Quarter 

" Oh, confound it! Blue eyes? I don't say no ; 
but gloves ! You cannot have everything at once, 
you know. Still, let us go to the aristocratic 
quarters." 

"There!" said Rodolphe, as they entered the 
room frequented by the more fashionable portion 
of the assemblage "there is someone who seems 
a very pleasant girl." He pointed out a rather 
fashionably dressed damsel in a corner. 

"Good!" returned Alexandre. "Keep a little 
bit in the background ; I will go hurl the firebrand 
of passion for you. When the time comes I will 
call you." 

Alexandre talked with the girl for about ten 
minutes. Every now and again she burst into a 
merry peal of laughter, and ended by flinging 
Rodolphe a glance which meant plainly enough, 
"Come, your advocate has gained your cause." 

" Go, the victory is ours ! " said Alexandre. "The 
little creature is not hardhearted, there is no doubt 
about it ; but you had better look harmless and 
simple to begin with." 

" I stand in no need of that recommendation." 

"Then pass me a little tobacco," said Alexandre, 
" and go and sit over there with her." 

" Oh, dear, how funny your friend is ! " began the 
damsel, when Rodolphe seated himself beside her. 
"He talks like a hunting horn." 

"That is because he is a musician," answered 
Rodolphe. 

Two hours later Rodolphe and his fair companion 
stopped before a house in the Rue Saint Denis. 

" I live here," she said. 
58 



Lenten Loves 

"Well, dear Louise, when shall I see you again, 
and where ? " 

" At your own house, to-morrow evening at eight 
o'clock." 

"Really?" 

"Here is my promise," said Louise, offering two 
fresh young cheeks, the ripe fruit of youth and 
health, of which Rodolphe took his fill at leisure. 
Then he went home intoxicated to madness. 

"Ah!" he cried as he strode to and fro in his 
room, " it must not pass off thus ; I positively must 
write some poetry." 

Next morning his porter found some thirty pieces 
of paper lying about the room, with the following 
solitary line majestically inscribed at the head of 
each (otherwise blank) sheet 

" O Love ! O Love ! thou prince of youth ! " 

That morning Rodolphe, contrary to his usual 
habit, had awaked very early, and though he had 
slept very little, he got up at once. 

" Ah, broad daylight already ! " he cried. " Why, 
twelve hours to wait ! What shall I do to fill those 
twelve eternities ? " 

Just then his eyes fell on his desk. The pen 
seemed to fidget, as if to say, "Work!" 

"Work, ah yes! A plague take prose! ... I 
will not stay here, the place stinks of ink." 

He installed himself in a cafe where he was quite 

sure of meeting none of his friends. "They would 

see that I am in love," he told himself, "and shape 

my ideal in advance for me." So after a succinct 

59 



The Latin Quarter 

repast Rodolphe hastened to the railway station, 
took the train, and in half an hour was out in the 
woods of Ville d'Avray. There set at freedom in 
a world grown young with spring", he spent the 
whole day in walking about, and only came back to 
Paris at nightfall. 

First of all Rodolphe put the temple in order for 
the reception of the idol ; then he dressed himself 
for the occasion, regretting as he did so that a white 
costume was out of the question. 

From seven o'clock till eight he suffered from a 
sharp, feverish attack of suspense. The slow torture 
recalled old days to his mind, and the ancient loves 
which lent them charm. And, faithful to his habit, 
he fell a-dreaming of a heroic passion, a ten-volume 
love, a perfect lyrical poem, with moonlit nights and 
sunsets and meetings under the willow tree and 
sighs and jealousy and all the rest of it. It was 
always the same with him whenever chance threw 
a woman in his way ; nor did the fair one ever quit 
him without an aureole about her head and a necklet 
of tears. 

"They would much prefer a hat or a pair of 
shoes," remonstrated his friends, but Rodolphe was 
obdurate, nor hitherto had his tolerably numerous 
blunders cured him. He was always on the look- 
out for a woman who should consent to pose as his 
idol ; an angel in velvet to whom he might indite 
sonnets on willow leaves at his leisure. 

At last the "hallowed hour" struck, and as 
Rodolphe heard the last stroke sound with a sonor- 
ous clang of bell metal, it seemed to him that he 
saw the alabaster Cupid and Psyche above his 
60 



Lenten Loves 

timepiece arise and fall into each other's arms. 
And at that very moment somebody gave a couple 
of timid taps on his door. 

Rodolphe went to open it, and there stood Louise. 

" I have kept my word, you see," she said. 

Rodolphe drew the curtains and lighted a new 
wax candle ; and the girl meanwhile took off her 
hat and shawl and laid them on the bed. The 
dazzling whiteness of the sheets drew a smile and 
something like a blush. 

Louise was charming rather than pretty, with a 
piquant mixture of simplicity and mischief in her 
face, somehow suggesting one of Greuze's themes 
treated by Gavarni. All her winning girlish charm 
was still further heightened by a toilette which, 
simple though it was, showed that she understood 
the science of coquetry, a science innate in every 
woman, from her first long clothes to her wedding- 
dress. Louise appeared, besides, to have made a 
special study of the theory of attitudes ; for as 
Rodolphe looked at her more closely with an artist's 
eye, she tried for his benefit a great variety of 
graceful poses, the charm of her movements being 
for the most part of the studied order. The slender- 
ness of her daintily shod feet, however, left nothing 
to be desired not even by a Romantic with a fancy 
for the miniature proportions of the Andalusians or 
Chinese ; as for her hands, it was plain from their 
delicate texture that they did no work, and indeed 
for the past six months they had had nothing to fear 
from needle pricks. To tell the whole truth, Louise 
was one of the birds of passage whom fancy, or 
oftener still necessity, leads to make their nest for a 
61 



The Latin Quarter 

day, or rather for a night, in some garret in the 
Latin Quarter, where they will sometimes stay for 
several days, held willing captives by a riband or 
a whim. 

After an hour's chat with Louise, Rodolphe 
pointed by way of example to the Cupid and 
Psyche. 

" Is that Paul and Virginia? " asked she. 

''Yes," said Rodolphe, unwilling to vex her by 
a contradiction at the outset. 

"It is very like," returned Louise. 

"Alas! " sighed Rodolphe as he looked at her, 
" the poor child has not very much literature. I feel 
sure that she only knows the orthography of the 
heart, which knows no ' s ' in the plural. I must 
buy her a grammar. " 

While he thus meditated, Louise complained that 
her shoes hurt her, and he obligingly was helping 
her to unlace them, when all on a sudden the light 
went out. 

"There!" exclaimed Rodolphe, "who can have 
blown out the candle ? " 

A joyous burst of laughter answered him. 

Some days later Rodolphe met a friend who 
accosted him in the street. 

"Why, what are you doing? You have dropped 
out of sight." 

"Making poetry out of my own experience," 
returned Rodolphe, and the unfortunate young man 
told the truth. 

He had asked more of Louise than the poor child 
could give him. Your little hurdy-gurdy cannot 
62 



Lenten Loves 

give out the notes of the lyre, and Louise used to 
talk, as one may say, the patois of love, while 
Rodolphe insisted that she should use poetical 
language. So they understood each other some- 
what imperfectly. 

A week later, at the very dancing saloon where 
she met Rodolphe, Louise came across a fair-haired 
young fellow, who danced a good many dances with 
her and ended by taking her home. 

He was a second-year student ; he spoke the prose 
language of pleasure very well ; he had fine eyes, 
and pockets that jingled musically. 

Louise asked him for paper and ink, and wrote 
Rodolphe a letter thus conceived : 

" Dont count on mee any more. One larst kiss and good- 
bye. LOUISE." 



As Rodolphe read this epistle that night, when he 
came in, the light suddenly went out. 

"There! " he said to himself meditatively, "that 
is the very candle which I lighted when Louise came 
that evening ; it is fitting that it should burn out 
now that all is over between us. If I had only 
known, I would have chosen a longer one," he 
added, with a ring in his voice, half vexation, half 
regret, and he laid Louise's note in a drawer, which 
he was wont at times to call the catacombs of his 
dead love affairs. 

One day when Rodolphe was with Marcel he 
picked up a scrap of paper off the floor to light his 
pipe, and recognised Louise's handwriting and 
spelling. 

63 



The Latin Quarter 

" I possess an autograph of the same writer," he 
remarked to his friend, "only in mine there are two 
fewer mistakes in spelling. Does that not show 
that she loved me better? " 

" It proves that you are a fool," returned Marcel ; 
" white arms and shoulders have no need of 
grammar." 



64 



IV 
ALI RODOLPHE 

OR, THE INVOLUNTARY TURK 

^vSTRACISED by a churlish landlord, Rodolphe 
V_y led for a time a nomad life, doing his best to 
perfect himself in the arts of sleeping" supperless, 
and supping without a bed to follow, with Chance 
for his chef, and the ground open to the stars for 
his lodging. No cloud wandered more than he. 

Still amid these painful cross events two things 
did not desert him to wit, his good humour and the 
manuscript of The Avenger, a tragedy which had 
made the rounds of all the likely openings for 
dramatic talent in Paris. 

But one day, as it befell, Rodolphe, having been 
conducted to the "jug" for a choregraphic per- 
formance a trifle too weird for public taste, found 
himself face to face with an uncle, a genuine uncle 
whom he had not seen for an age, in the shape of 
one Monetti, a stove manufacturer, an authority on 
chimneys, and a sergeant in the National Guard to 
boot. 

Touched by his nephew's misfortunes, Uncle 
Monetti promised to mend matters ; how, we shall 
presently see, if the ascent of six pairs of stairs 
does not dismay the reader. 

F 65 



The Latin Quarter 

So let us grasp the handrail and climb .... 
Ouf ! one hundred and twenty-five steps ! Here we 
are. One step more takes us into the room, another 
would bring us out at the other side. The place is 
perhaps small, but it is high up, and besides there 
is good air up there and a fine view. 

The furniture consists of a good selection of 
chimney cowls, a couple of portable stoves, a few 
patent grates for economising fuel (especially if 
no fuel is put in them), a dozen or so of funnels 
and fire-bricks, and a whole host of warming 
apparatus ; furthermore, to complete the inventory, 
add to these a hammock slung from a couple of 
hooks in the walls, a garden chair with an 
amputated leg, a chandelier still adorned with a 
solitary socket, and various fancy articles and 
objects of art. 

As for the second room, a balcony and a couple 
of dwarf cypresses in pots convert it into a park 
for the summer. 

The tenant of this abode, a young man dressed 
like a Turk of comic opera, is just finishing his 
breakfast as we enter, a meal which in itself is a 
shameless violation of the law of the Prophet, as 
may be sufficiently seen by the presence of the 
mortal remains of a knuckle of ham and what was 
once a full bottle of wine. 

Breakfast ended, the youthful Turk extended him- 
self on the floor in Oriental fashion, languidly 
smoking a narghile" marked "J.G.," and while he 
gave himself up to a sense of Asiatic beatitude, he 
passed his hand from time to time over the back of 
a magnificent Newfoundland dog, who would no 
66 



Ali Rodolphe 



doubt have responded to these caresses if he had 
not been made of earthenware. 

All at once a sound of footsteps came from the 
passage, and the door opened to give admittance 
to somebody who without a word went straight up 
to a range which did duty as a bureau, drew a roll 
of papers out of the oven, and subjected them to a 
close scrutiny. 

"What!" cried the new-comer, speaking with 
a strong Piedmontese accent, "have you not finished 
the chapter on ' Ventilation Holes ' yet? " 

" With your leave, uncle," replied the Turk, " the 
chapter on ' Ventilation Holes ' is one of the most 
interesting in your work, and requires to be studied 
with especial care. I am now studying it." 

"Wretched boy, it is always the same thing! 
And my chapter on 'Hot-air Stoves,' how is that 
going on ? " 

"The hot-air stove is doing well. By-the-by, 
uncle, if you would let me have a little firewood it 
would not come amiss. It is a small edition of 
Siberia up here ; I am so cold that I have only to 
look at the thermometer, and it drops below zero ! " 

"What! have you burned a whole faggot 
already? " 

"With your permission, uncle, there are faggots 
and faggots, and yours was a very little one." 

" I will send you a block of patent fuel ; it keeps 
the heat in." 

"That is precisely why it gives none out." 

"Oh, well, I will send you up a little faggot," 
returned M. Monetti as he withdrew. " But I want 
my chapter on * Hot-air Stoves ' to-morrow." 
67 



The Latin Quarter 

"When the fire comes it will inspire me," called 
the Turk, as the key was turned a second time in the 
lock. 

If this history were a tragedy, now would be the 
time to bring" in the confidant. His name would 
be Noureddin or Osman ; he would approach our 
hero with a mixture of discretion and protection in 
fine and just proportion, and worm his secret out 
of him with some such lines as these : 

"What boding- grief, my lord, o'erwhelms you now? 
And why this pallor on your awful brow ? 
Did Allah's might my lord's designs arrest ? 
Did AH execute his stern behest 
And bear to exile under alien skies 
The wilful fair whose beauty charmed his eyes ? " 

But this is not a tragedy, and in spite of our 
pressing need of a confidant we must do without 
him. 

Our hero is not what he appears to be. The turban 
does not make the Turk, and the youth is no other 
than our friend Rodolphe, received into the abode of 
his uncle, for whom he is in the act of shaping a 
manual, the Complete Guide to Chimneys. The fact 
is that M. Monetti, an enthusiast for his art, had 
devoted his life to the science of chimney construc- 
tion, and had even adapted for his own use a maxim 
which serves in some sort as a pendant to that of 
Cicero: "The stovemaker is born, not made" 
nascuntur poe . . . Hers, the worthy Piedmon- 
tese would cry in moments of lofty enthusiasm. 
One day it occurred to him to formulate, for the 
benefit of future races of man, a theoretical code 
68 



All Rodolphe 



of the principles of an art in the practice of which 
he excelled. His ideas requiring, however, to be 
put in a setting which should make them generally 
intelligible, he had, as we have seen, chosen his 
nephew for the task. Rodolphe was boarded, 
lodged, and so forth, and on completion of the 
Guide was to receive a premium of a hundred 
crowns. 

At the outset, and to encourage his nephew to 
work, Monetti had generously made him an advance 
of fifty francs. Rodolphe, who had not set eyes on 
such a sum for nearly a year, was in a fair way to 
go out of his mind ; he issued forth in the company 
of the coins, for three days nothing was seen of 
him, and the fourth he returned alone. 

Monetti, having hopes of a red ribbon, was in a 
hurry to see his manual completed. He put his 
nephew under lock and key for fear of fresh escap- 
ades, and the better to keep him to work took away 
his clothes, and left instead the disguise in which 
we have just discovered him. 

But in spite of all this, the famous Guide went on 
at a jog-trot pace. Rodolphe's genius was abso- 
lutely unsuited to literature of that kind. Monetti 
avenged himself for his nephew's slothful indiffer- 
ence in the matter of chimneys by making him suffer 
all sorts of hardships, sometimes cutting down his 
meals, and frequently cutting off tobacco. 

At length, one Sunday, when Rodolphe had toiled 
at the chapter on "Air Holes" till his brows were 
covered with the ink and sweat of anguish, he 
broke the pen, which made his fingers itch, and 
went to take a walk in his park. 
69 



The Latin Quarter 

But (as if it had been arranged on purpose to 
tantalise him and exasperate his cravings) he could 
not so much as glance in any direction without per- 
ceiving the countenance of a man with a pipe at 
every window. 

On the gilded balcony of a newly built house he 
remarked a dandy, in a dressing-gown, chewing the 
end of an aristocratic Havana. On the floor above 
sat an artist wafting abroad a fragrant mist of 
Levantine from a pipe with an amber mouthpiece. 
Below, at the window of a public-house, a fat 
German was blowing the froth from a pot of beer 
in the intervals of puffing like a steam-engine at 
a Cudmer pipe, from which dense clouds arose ; and 
in another direction a knot of working-men, their 
cutty pipes between their teeth, were walking along, 
singing on their way, to the barrier. Every man in 
the street, in fact and there were a good many 
was smoking. 

"Alack!" Rodolphe exclaimed enviously, "at 
this hour there is not a creature in the world but 
smokes save I and my uncle's chimneys." And 
leaning his brow on the handrail, Rodolphe medi- 
tated upon the bitterness of life. 

Just then the sound of a prolonged peal of musical 
laughter came up to him from below. He bent over 
a little to see whence this burst of merriment 
proceeded, and perceived that he had been seen 
by a lodger who occupied the floor immediately 
beneath one Mile. Sidonie, a leading lady at the 
Luxembourg Theatre. 

Mile. Sidonie came out upon her terrace rolling 
between her fingers with Castilian dexterity a tiny 
70 



Ali Rodolphe 



roll of light tobacco which she took from an em- 
broidered velvet pouch. 

"What a handsome tobacco pouch!" Rodolphe 
muttered to himself in thoughtful adoration. 

"Who is that AH Baba?" Mile. Sidonie won- 
dered, and in her mind she meditated pretexts for 
beginning a conversation with Rodolphe, who in 
fact was engaged in a similar mental process. 

"Oh, dear me!" exclaimed Mile. Sidonie, as if 
speaking to herself, "how tiresome, I have no 
matches ! " 

"Will you allow me to offer you some, made- 
moiselle ? " said Rodolphe, and wrapping two or 
three matches in a scrap of paper, he let them drop 
on the balcony. 

" A thousand thanks ! " said Sidonie as she lit her 
cigarette. 

"Oh, heavens, mademoiselle," Rodolphe con- 
tinued, "may I venture to ask, in return for the 
slight service which my good angel enabled me to 
render " 

("What! he is asking something already!" 
thought Sidonie, honouring Rodolphe with a closer 
attention. "Ah, these Turks! They are fickle, 
people say, but very pleasant.") Then, raising her 
face to Rodolphe's, she said aloud, "Speak, mon- 
sieur, what do you want ? " 

"Oh, heavens, mademoiselle, I will only beseech 
a little tobacco of your charity ; I havs not had 
a smoke for two days. Only one pipe 

"With pleasure, monsieur. But how is it to be 
done? Will you be so good as to come down- 
stairs ? " 



The Latin Quarter 

"Alas! that is quite out of the question. I am 
a prisoner, but I will make use of such freedom as 
I have to avail myself of a very simple device," and 
fastening a string to his pipe, he let it down to the 
terrace, where Mile. Sidonie abundantly filled it. 
Then, with deliberate caution, Rodolphe drew it up 
again without accident. 

"Ah, mademoiselle," he said, "how much im- 
proved my pipe would have been if I could have 
lighted it at your eyes ! " an agreeable pleasantry 
which has reached its hundredth edition at least, 
but Mile. Sidonie thought it none the less superb. 

" You flatter me," she thought it incumbent upon 
her to reply. 

" Oh, mademoiselle, to me you seem lovely as the 
Three Graces." 

"Decidedly," thought Sidonie, "Ali Baba is very 
polite. Are you really a Turk? " she inquired. 

"Not by vocation, but of necessity. I am a 
dramatic author, madame." 

"And I am an actress," returned Sidonie, adding, 
" Will you do me the honour of dining and spending 
the evening with me, monsieur?" 

"Ah, mademoiselle, your proposal opens up all 
heaven to me, but it is impossible to accept it. 
I am a prisoner, as I have already had the honour 
of telling you ; locked in by my uncle, Monetti, 
a stove manufacturer, to whom for the present I am 
acting as secretary." 

"Still you can dine with me," returned Sidonie. 

"Pay attention to what I am going to tell you. 

I am about to go back into my room, and I will 

knock on the ceiling. If you will look closely at 

72 



Ali Rodolphe 



the spot from which the sound comes, you will find 
traces of a square hole there, long since closed up. 
If you can contrive to pull up the board laid across 
it, we can keep each other company, each in our 
separate room." 

Rodolphe set to work at once, and in five minutes' 
time had opened up communication between the two 
chambers. 

"The hole is small," said he, "yet not so small 
but that my heart can pass through it." 

"Now we will dine," returned Sidonie. "Lay 
the cloth in your room, and I will hand up the 
dishes." 

Rodolphe let down his turban by a piece of string 
and drew it up again laden with provisions ; then 
the poet and actress sat down to dinner, the one 
above, the other below; and while Rodolphe's 
teeth were busy with the food, his eyes devoured 
Mile. Sidonie. 

"Alas, mademoiselle!" he remarked, when the 
meal was over. "Thanks to you, the cravings of 
hunger are satisfied. Will you not do as much for 
the cravings of my heart, after so prolonged a 
fast?" 

"Poor boy!" said Sidonie. And mounting on 
a piece of furniture, she brought her hand to 
Rodolphe's lips. He covered it with kisses. 

" Ah ! " he cried, " what a pity that you have not, 
like Saint Denis, the privilege of carrying your 
head in your hands ! " 

After dinner a conversation, half sentimental, 
half literary, sprang up. Rodolphe talked of his 
Avenger, and Mile. Sidonie asked him to read it 
73 



The Latin Quarter 

aloud. So Rodolphe, hang-ing over the hole in the 
ceiling, declaimed his tragedy for the benefit of the 
actress below, who the better to hear him had 
seated herself in an armchair on the top of a chest 
of drawers. Mile. Sidonie pronounced The Avenger 
to be a masterpiece, and as she was apt to have 
her own way at the theatre, she promised Rodolphe 
that his play should appear. 

Uncle Monetti's footstep, light as the tramp of 
the Commandant, broke in upon their discourse at 
the very tenderest moment. Rodolphe had only 
just time to put the board back in its place. 

"Stay!" said Monetti, addressing his nephew, 
"here is a letter for you. It has been running about 
after you this month past." 

"Let us look at it," said Rodolphe. "Oh, uncle!" 
he cried, "I am rich! The letter informs me that 
I have been awarded a prize of three hundred francs 
by an Academy of Floral Games. Quick ! my coat 
and my things, and let me hie to reap my laurels ! 
They await me at the Capitol." 

"And how about my chapter on 'Air Holes'?" 
his uncle retorted coolly. 

"Eh? Much that matters! Give me back my 
things. I am not going tricked out like this " 

"You are not going out at all until the Guide is 
finished," said his uncle, as he locked in Rodolphe 
with a double turn of the key. 

Left alone, Rodolphe was not long about making 
up his mind. Tying the bedclothes together, he 
made one end fast to his balcony-railing ; and by 
means of the improvised ladder arrived safely, in 
spite of the perils of the descent, upon Mile. 
Sidonie's terrace. 

74 



All Rodolphe 



" Who is there ? " she cried when Rodolphe tapped 

on the window-panes. 

" Hush ! " said he, " let me in 

" What do you want? Who are you? " 

" Can you ask? I am the author of The Avenger, 

and I have come down to look for my heart, for 

I let it fall through the hole in your ceiling." 

"Wretched young man," said the actress, "you 

might have killed yourself." 

"Listen to me, Sidonie," Rodolphe went on, 

showing her the newly received letter. " Fame and 

Fortune are smiling upon me, you see ... if only 

Love will do the same?" 



Next morning Rodolphe contrived to make his 
escape from his uncle's house by the aid of a 
masculine disguise which Sidonie found for him ; 
and hurrying away to the representative of the 
Academy of Floral Games, received a Golden Eglan- 
tine of the value of a hundred crowns, a blossom 
which lived almost as long as roses usually do. 

A month afterwards M. Monetti received an in- 
vitation from his nephew to the first performance 
of The Avenger. Thanks to Mile. SidomVs talent, 
it was performed seventeen times and brought in 
forty francs to its author. 

Later still, as it was summer-time, Rodolphe took 
up his abode in the Avenue de Saint Cloud on the 
fifth branch of the third tree to the left as you come 
from the Bois de Boulogne. 



75 



V 

CHARLEMAGNE'S CROWN-PIECE 

TOWARDS the end of the month of December 
the messengers of Bidault's agency received 
for distribution about a hundred copies of a circular 
of which we certify the following to be a true and 
genuine copy : 

ToM. 

MM. Rodolphe and Marcel request the honour of your 
company at a Soiree, on Christmas Eve (Saturday next). 
There is going to be some fun. 

P.S. We only live once ! ! 

PROGRAMME. 

7 P.M. The salons will be open : lively and animated 
conversation. 

8 P.M. The ingenious authors of The Mountain in Labour 
(a comedy refused by the Odeon) will take a turn round the 
rooms. 

8.30 P.M. M. Alexandre Schaunard, the distinguished artist, 
will execute his symphonic imitative for the piano, called The 
Influence of Blue in Art. 

9 P.M. First reading of a Memoir on the abolition of the 
penalty of Tragedy. 

9.30 P.M. M. Gustave Colline, hyperphysical philosopher, 
and M. Schaunard will commence a debate on comparative 
philosophy and metapolitics. In order to prevent any possible 
collision, the two disputants will be tied together. 

10 P.M. M. Tristan, a literary man, will relate the story of 
his first love. M. Alexandre Schaunard will play a pianoforte 
accompaniment. 

76 



Charlemagne's Crown-piece 

10.30 P.M. Second reading of the Memoir on the abolition 
of the penalty of Tragedy. 

ii P.M. The Story of a Cassowary Hunt, by a foreign 
Prince. 

II. 

At midnight M. Marcel (historical painter) will make a white 
chalk drawing, with his eyes bandaged. Subject : The inter- 
view between Napoleon and Voltaire in the Champs Elysees. 
At the same time M. Rodolphe will improvise a parallel be- 
tween the author of Zaire and the author of The Battle of 
Austerlitz* 

12.30 A.M. M. Gustave Colline, in modest undress, will give 
a revival of the Athletic Sports of the Fourth Olympiad. 

1 A.M. Third reading of the Memoir on the abolition of the 
penalty of Tragedy, followed by a collection in aid of authors 
of tragedies, who are likely to be thrown out of employment. 

2 A.M. Sports and quadrilles which will be kept up till 
morning. 

6 A.M. Rise of the sun upon the scenes, and fina! chorus. 
The ventilators will be open during the whole of the Soiree. 

N.B. Any person attempting to read or recite poetry will 
be immediately ejected from the rooms and taken into custody ; 
you are similarly requested not to carry away candle-ends. 

In two days' time copies of this epistle were 
circulated freely in the lowest circles of literary and 
artistic unsuccess, where they made a profound 
sensation. 

Nevertheless, among 1 the invited guests there were 
found some to cast a doubt upon the splendours 
announced by the friends. 

"I have g-ood suspicions," remarked one of the 
sceptics. "I used to go now and again to Rodolphe's 
Wednesdays, in the Rue de la Tour d'Auvergne, you 
could only sit down figuratively, and the drink was 
water, imperfectly filtered, in eclectic pottery." 
77 



The Latin Quarter 

"It is something really serious this time," said 
another. "Marcel showed me their plans for the 
evening, and it seems there will be magical effects." 

" Are there to be ladies ?" 

"Yes, Phe"mie Teinturiere asked to be queen of 
the revels, and Schaunard is sure to ask other ladies 
as well." 

There in a few words is the origin of the festivity 
which produced such bewildered amazement in 
transpontine Bohemia. For a year past, or there- 
abouts, Marcel and Rodolphe had announced this 
sumptuous gala; it was always coming off "next 
Saturday," but painful circumstances compelled the 
promise to make a progress through the fifty-two 
weeks ; and things had came to such a pass that 
the friends could not take a step abroad without 
encountering some ironical remark from the rest of 
their acquaintances, some of whom were indelicate 
enough to give them vigorous reminders of their 
engagements. The matter beginning to wear the 
aspect of a hoax, Rodolphe and Marcel resolved 
to put a stop to all this by fulfilling their pledges. 
And so the above invitation was sent out. 

"There is no drawing back now," was Rodolphe's 
comment; "we have burnt our boats. We can- 
not do things properly on less than a hundred 
francs ; there is only a week left, and we shall have 
to find the money." 

"If we must have it, we shall find it," Marcel 
had replied. And with an insolent confidence in 
Chance this pair of friends slept, convinced in their 
own minds that their hundred francs were on the way 
for impossible things have a way of turning up. 
78 



Charlemagne's Crown-piece 

Still, when Thursday came, and nothing had yet 
turned up, Rodolphe thought that giving Chance a 
help would perhaps be a surer way if he did not 
mean to be left in the lurch when the time came for 
lighting up the chandeliers. To facilitate this, they 
gradually cut down the more sumptuous items of 
expenditure in the programme which they had 
drawn up. 

After proceeding from one modification to another, 
after erasing perforce the item Cakes, and carefully 
revising and diminishing the item Refreshments, 
the total expense was reduced to fifteen francs. 
The accounts were simplified, but not, so far, 
settled. 

"Come, come," said Rodolphe, "we must try 
drastic measures now. We may take it first 
of all for granted that we cannot put it off this 
time." 

" Impossible ! " returned Marcel. 

" How long is it since I last heard the history of 
the battle of Studzianka ? " 

"Nearly two months." 

"Two months, good ; a decent interval, my uncle 
cannot complain. I will go to hear about the battle 
of Studzianka to-morrow that will mean five francs, 
for certain." 

"And I will go and sell a 'Ruined Manor-house' 
to old Medicis. That will be another five francs. 
If I have time to put in two or three turrets and 
a mill, it may perhaps fetch ten francs, and we shall 
have all we want." 

And with that the friends slept and dreamed that 
the Princess Belgiojoso begged them to change their 
79 



The Latin Quarter 

"At Home" days because they interfered with her 
receptions. 

Marcel awoke very early, took a piece of canvas 
and threw his energies into the construction of a 
"Ruined Manor-house," a subject much fancied by 
a dealer in the Place du Carrousel ; while Rodolphe 
betook himself to Uncle Monetti. The veteran stove 
manufacturer excelled in the narration of the Retreat 
from Moscow, and Rodolphe was wont when hard up 
to drop in five or six times a year to give the old 
man the satisfaction of telling the story of his 
campaigns, expecting a loan of money in return, 
for his relative was not over hard to persuade when 
his audience knew how to show sufficient en- 
thusiasm. 

It was nearly two o'clock. Marcel, crossing the 
Place du Carrousel, with head down bent and a 
canvas under his arm, came upon Rodolphe, who 
had just left his uncle. There was that in his bear- 
ing which boded no good. 

" Well," said Marcel, " did you succeed ? " 

"No; my uncle has gone to the Muse"e at 
Versailles. Did you ? " 

"That brute of a Medicis doesn't want any more 
ruined castles ; he asked me for a * Bombardment 
of Tangier.'" 

"Our characters are hopelessly lost if we do 
not give our fete," murmured Rodolphe. "What 
would our friend the influential critic think if 
I made him put on a white tie and a pair of 
primrose-coloured gloves for nothing?" And the 
pair returned to the studio in acute throes of 
anxiety. 

80 



Charlemagne's Crown-piece 

A neighbouring clock struck four at that very 
moment. 

"We have only three hours left us," said 
Rodolphe. 

Marcel came up to his friend 

"But are you quite sure, really sure, that we 
have no money here, eh ? " he cried. 

" Neither here nor anywhere else. Where should 
any overplus come from ? " 

"Suppose we hunt under the furniture in the 
armchairs. They say that emigres used to hide 
treasure in armchairs in Robespierre's time. Who 
knows ? Perhaps our armchair once belonged to 
an emigre ; at any rate, it is so hard that I have 
often thought there must be metal inside it. Will 
you have an autopsy ? " 

"This is pure farce," retorted Rodolphe in a tone 
of severity blended with indulgence. 

Marcel, still prosecuting his search in every corner 
of the studio, all at once gave a great shout of 
triumph. 

" Saved ! " he cried ; " I knew we had valuables of 
some sort here. Here ! Look ! " and he held up 
for Rodolphe's inspection a big coin, as large as 
a crown - piece, half eaten away by wear and 
verdigris. 

It was a Carolin coin of some artistic merit. 
By good luck the lettering had been preserved, and 
the date, of the time of Charlemagne, was still 
legible. 

" That ! " said Rodolphe, glancing with disdainful 
eye at his friend's treasure-trove, "it is worth thirty 
sous." 

G 81 



The Latin Quarter 

"Thirty sous well laid out will produce a great 
deal of effect," retorted Marcel. "With twelve 
hundred men Bonaparte compelled ten thousand 
Austrians to surrender. Skill equals numbers. I 
am off to change Charlemagne's crown -piece at 
old Medicis'. Is there nothing else that we can 
sell? Stop a bit, though, suppose I take the cast 
of Jaconowski's tibia? that Russian drum-major's 
shin bone would make up bulk." 

"Take the tibia. But it is annoying; there will 
not be a single work of art left here." 

Whilst Marcel was away Rodolphe, who had quite 
decided to give the soire"e, whatever happened, went 
to find his friend Colline, the hyperphysical philo- 
sopher who lived close by. 

"I have come," he said, "to beg you to do 
me a service. As host, I absolutely must have 
a black coat, and and I haven't one. Lend me 
yours." 

Colline hesitated. "But," he demurred, " as a 
guest, I want my black coat myself." 

" I will overlook it if you come in an overcoat." 

"I have never had an overcoat, as you well 
know." 

"Very well, listen; there is another way of 
managing it. If needs must, you might stop away 
and lend your black coat to me." 

"That is annoying. I am down on the pro- 
gramme ; so I should be missed, and that would 
not do." 

"Plenty of other things will be missing too," 
said Rodolphe. "Lend me your black coat, and if 
you mean to come, come as you please in shirt- 
82 



Charlemagne's Crown-piece 

sleeves, if you like you would pass for a faithful 
domestic." 

1 'Oh, no!" said Colline, flushing up. " I shall 
wear my nut-brown paletot. But, indeed, all this 
is very annoying." Perceiving as he spoke that 
Rodolphe had already taken possession of the 
famous black coat, he cried 

''Why, wait a bit . . . There are a few little 
things in it." 

Colline's dress coat deserves some mention. To 
begin with, the garment was of an uncompromising 
blue colour, though from force of habit Colline spoke 
of it as his black coat. And as he was the only 
one of the band who owned a dress coat at all, his 
friends likewise had fallen into the way of speaking 
of the philosopher's official garb as " Coiline's black 
coat." What is more, this famous article of dress 
was of a peculiar cut, as queer a shape as can be 
seen ; the very long skirts attached to a very short 
waist contained a pair of pockets regular gulfs in 
which Colline was wont to stow some score of 
volumes which he always carried about upon him ; 
so that his friends used to say that when the libraries 
were closed, the learned might consult the works of 
reference in Colline's coat pockets, a library always 
open to readers. 

This time, by some extraordinary chance, Colline's 
pocket merely contained a quarto volume of Bayle, 
a treatise in three volumes on the hyperphysical 
faculties, a tome of Condillac, a couple of volumes 
by Swedenborg and Pope's Essay on Man. When 
Colline had cleared out his pocket collection, he 
allowed Rodolphe to put on the coat. 
83 



The Latin Quarter 

"Stay," said the other, "the left-hand pocket is 
still very heavy ; you have left something" in it." 

"Ah, true," returned Colline, "I forgot to clear 
out the foreign language pocket." And so saying 
he drew out a couple of Arabic grammars, a Malay 
dictionary and a copy of the Complete Ox-driver 
in Chinese, his favourite reading. 

When Rodolphe came in again he found Marcel 
playing- at quoits with five - franc pieces to the 
number of three, and his first impulse was to re- 
fuse the hand which his friend proffered he was 
convinced that a crime had been committed. 

" Make haste, make haste ! " said Marcel. " Here 
are the fifteen francs we wanted. This is how it 
happened : I met an antiquary at Medicis'. At the 
sight of the coin he was almost taken ill ; it was the 
one thing- he wanted to complete his collection. He 
has been sending all over the world, and had lost 
all hope of filling up the gap. So when he had 
taken a good look at my crown-piece he offered 
me five francs for it straight off. Medicis jogged 
my elbow, and a look said the rest. He meant, 
' Let us go halves in the profits, and I will send 
up the price.' So between us we ran it up to thirty 
francs ; I let the Jew have fifteen, and here is the 
rest. Now, let our guests come ; we are ready to 
dazzle them. Why, you have a black dress coat ! " 

"Yes," said Rodolphe, "it is Colline's coat." 
And as he groped for his handkerchief, a small 
volume of Manchu tumbled out of the foreign 
language pocket. 

The two friends set to work at once on their pre- 
parations, putting the studio in order and lighting a 
84 



Charlemagne's Crown-piece 

fire in the stove. A painter's canvas-stretcher, with 
a row of candles stuck round it, was hung from the 
ceiling as a chandelier ; a bureau was dragged into 
the middle of the studio to serve as a rostrum 
for orators ; the only armchair, which was to be 
occupied by the influential critic, was placed in front 
of it, and the table was covered with poems, plays, 
novels and articles written by authors who were to 
honour the soirde with their presence. In order to 
prevent any possible collision between men of letters 
of different camps, the studio had been divided 
into four quarters, each labelled with a scrawled 
placard, thus 

POETS' CORNER. ROMANTICS. 

PROSE WRITERS. CLASSICISTS. 

A space was reserved for the ladies in the middle. 

4 'Look here! we are short of chairs," said 
Rodolphe. 

" Oh, there are a lot out on the landing, in a row 
along the wall," said Marcel. ''Suppose we take 
them in ? " 

"Certainly we ought," said Rodolphe, seizing on 
the chairs, which belonged to one of the neighbours. 

As the clock struck six the friends went out for a 
hasty dinner, and then came back to light up. They 
were dazzled themselves by the result. At seven 
o'clock Schaunard arrived with three ladies, who 
had left their diamonds and their hats at home. 
One of them wore a red shawl with black spots on 
it. Schaunard particularly called Rodolphe's atten- 
tion to this person. 

" She comes of a very good family," he explained. 



The Latin Quarter 

11 She is an Englishwoman. The fall of the Stuarts 
compelled her to take refuge in exile, and now she 
lives very quietly by giving English lessons. I 
understand from her that her father was Lord 
Chancellor under Cromwell. She must be treated 
politely; do not be too free-and-easy with her." 

The sound of many footsteps came up from the 
staircase. The guests were arriving, and saw, to 
their astonishment, that a fire was burning in the 
stove. 

Rodolphe's black dress coat was well to the fore. 
He kissed the hands of the ladies as they entered 
with all the grace of the bygone days of the 
Regency. When a score or so of visitors had 
arrived Schaunard asked whether refreshments 
were not going to be handed round. 

''Yes, in a moment," said Marcel; "we are 
awaiting the arrival of the influential critic before 
warming the punch." 

At eight o'clock the room was full, and the pro- 
gramme was proceeded with. Refreshments of 
some kind (what they were nobody ever knew pre- 
cisely) were handed round during every interval. 
It was nearly ten o'clock before the white waist- 
coat of the influential critic appeared upon the 
scene, but he only stayed an hour, and was very 
moderate in his potations. 

At midnight, as all the firewood was burnt up, 
and the temperature was very low, those of the 
guests who had chairs drew lots as to who should 
convert his seat into fuel. 

At one o'clock everybody was standing. 

The evening passed off without regrettable inci- 
86 



Charlemagne's Crown-piece 

dents of any kind, unless we except a rent made in 
the foreign language pocket of Colline's coat, and a 
box on the ear administered by Schaunard to the 
daughter of Cromwell's Chancellor. 

This memorable soiree was the talk of the Quarter 
for a week afterwards, and Phemie Teinturiere, the 
queen of the evening, used to say, when she told 
her friends about it, " It was tremendously grand ; 
such a lighting up of candles we had, my dear ! " 



VI 

MADEMOISELLE MUSETTE 

MADEMOISELLE MUSETTE was a pretty 
girl of twenty, who, shortly after her arrival 
in Paris, began to live as pretty girls are apt to 
live when their equipment consists of a slender 
waist, a good deal of coquetry, a little ambition 
and no grammar to speak of. For some time 
Musette was the delight of Latin Quarter suppers, 
for if she did not always sing in tune, her voice was 
quite fresh, and she knew a number of country 
glees and songs, an accomplishment which gained 
for her the name under which she has since been 
made famous by the lapidaries of rime. Then, 
quite suddenly, Musette deserted the Rue de la 
Harpe for the upper realms of Cytherea, in the 
Quartier Breda. 

There she very soon became one of the first orna- 
ments of the aristocracy of pleasure, and was in a 
fair way to reach the sort of celebrity which consists 
in seeing one's name in the Paris papers, and one's 
lithographed portrait in the printsellers' shops. 

Mile. Musette, nevertheless, was an exception 
among the women who lead such lives as hers. 
Like all truly womanly women, she had an in- 
stinctive feeling for refinement and poetry, loving 



Mademoiselle Musette 

luxury and all the enjoyments which luxury pro- 
cures. In her coquetry there was an ardent long- 
ing for all that is fine and rare ; and though a 
daughter of the people, she would have felt by no 
means out of her element amid royal splendours. 
But Mile. Musette, young and beautiful as she 
was, had never brought herself to consent to be 
the mistress of a man who was not likew'se hand- 
some and young. She had been known to refuse 
with spirit the splendid offers made by an old and 
wealthy man (so wealthy, indeed, that people called 
him the Peru of the Chaussde d'Antin), though this 
person had reared a golden staircase for Musette's 
fancies to climb. But Musette was clever and quick- 
witted, nor did she suffer fools gladly, whatever 
their age, title, or condition. 

She was a fine spirited girl was this Musette, 
whose motto in love affairs was Champfort's famous 
aphorism, " L'amour est 1'echange de deux fan- 
taisies." And so, never at any time before forming 
a connection had she made any of the shameful 
bargains which are the disgrace of modern gallantry. 
Musette, as she said herself, played fair and ex- 
pected others to do the same by her. But though 
she was ardent and spontaneous in her likings, 
they never lasted long enough to rise to the 
height of a passion. And the excessive instability 
of her fancy, together with the small attention 
that she gave to the purses of those who paid 
court to her, brought great instability into her 
own life. It was a constant succession of ups 
and downs, always oscillating between a fifth floor 
and an entresol, between an omnibus and a smart 
89 



The Latin Quarter 

brougham, silk gowns and cotton frocks. Ah, 
charming girl, living poem of youth, with your gay 
songs and ringing laughter ; ah, soft heart, that 
beat for all the world beneath that loosened bodice ! 
Oh, Mile. Musette, sister of Bernerette and Mimi 
Pinson, only an Alfred de Musset could do justice 
to your careless, vagabond course in the flowery 
byways of youth ; and he truly would have made 
you famous also, had he heard you as I heard you 
singing your favourite round in that sweet voice of 
yours that never could keep quite in tune 

" The softest of days of the Spring 
And I whispered my love in her ear 
Ah dark little face 
Like Cupid's dear mate, 
Ah daintiest lace 
Of butterfly weight." 

The story which we are about to relate is one of 
the most charming episodes in the life of the charm- 
ing adventuress who flung so many caps over so 
many windmills. 

Once upon a time, when Mile. Musette ruled a 
young Councillor of State who had politely placed 
the key of his patrimony in her hands, it was her 
wont to give weekly soirees in her pretty little salon 
in the Rue de la Bruyere. The soirees were much 
like any others in Paris, with this difference 
people were amused. When there were not seats 
enough people sat on each other's knees ; and it not 
unfrequently happened that two persons drank out 
of the same glass. As Rodolphe was Musette's 
friend, and never more than her friend (neither of 
them could ever tell why), he asked leave to bn^g 
90 



Mademoiselle Musette 

Marcel the painter, a young fellow with some talent, 
he added, for whom the Future was weaving- an 
academician's robe. 

" Bring him," answered Musette. 

On the appointed evening Rodolphe accordingly 
climbed Marcel's stairs in search of his friend, and 
found him engaged on his toilet. 

' 'What!" exclaimed Rodolphe, "are you going 
to wear a coloured shirt as evening dress? " 

"And is that any offence against established 
usage?" Marcel inquired calmly. 

" Offence ? Yes, of the deepest dye, miscreant ! " 

"The devil! " cried Marcel, looking at his shirt, 
a blue one covered with vignettes representing 
hunting scenes, "the fact is I have no other here. 
Pooh ! so much the worse for me. I will put on a 
white collar, and as * Methuselah ' buttons up to the 
throat, no one will notice the colour of my linen." 

"Why, are you going to wear 'Methuselah' as 
well?" Rodolphe asked uneasily. 

"Alas ! I must. It is the will of heaven and of my 
tailor likewise. But at any rate, his buttons have 
just been renewed, and I have gone over him here 
and there with lamp-black." 

"Methuselah" was simply Marcel's frock coat, 
so called because it was the oldest inhabitant of his 
wardrobe. Methuselah was made in the extreme 
of the fashion of four years ago, and, what was 
more, of a hideous green colour, though Marcel 
declared that it looked black by candle-light. 

In another five minutes Marcel was dressed, 
dressed with the utmost perfection of bad taste 
a rapin in evening dress. 



The Latin Quarter 

M. Casimir Bonjour's amazement when he heard 
that he was elected a member of the Institute could 
not surpass the astonishment of Marcel and Rodolphe 
when they arrived at Mile. Musette's house. This 
was the cause. Mile. Musette had some time ago 
broken off relations with her lover the Councillor of 
State, and he had left her at a very critical juncture. 
Her creditors and her landlord had seized her furni- 
ture, which was now in the courtyard waiting to be 
carried off to the auction -room in the morning. 
But in spite of this incident, the idea of giving her 
visitors the slip never crossed Musette's mind for a 
moment, nor did she cancel her engagements for 
that evening. Instead, she solemnly arranged the 
courtyard as a drawing-room, put down a carpet 
over the stones, made all her preparations as usual, 
dressed for the evening, and invited all the other 
lodgers in the house to her little fete, to which 
heaven kindly contributed its illuminations. 

The farce proved an immense success. Never 
had the fun been kept up with such spirit and 
gaiety. Musette's guests were still dancing and 
singing when the brokers' men came to take away 
tables, couches and carpet, and the company was 
forced to break up. 

Musette saw them all depart, singing 

" 'Twill be long ere they forget la, ri, ra, 

Oh ! my Thursday evening ; 
They'll be talking of it yet la, ri, ri." 

At last Marcel and Rodolphe were left alone with 
Musette ; she went up to her flat where there was 
nothing left but the bedstead. 

"Ah, well," she remarked, "my adventure does 
92 



Mademoiselle Musette 

not look quite such good fun now. I must betake 
myself to lodgings in the open. I know that hotel 
pretty well, it is a tremendous place for draughts." 

"Ah, madame," said Marcel, "if I haa the gifts 
of Plutus I would build you a temple finer than 
Solomon's, but " 

" But you are not Plutus, my friend. I am obliged 
to you all the same for your intentions. Pshaw ! " 
she added, glancing round the rooms, "I was 
getting bored here ; and then, the furniture was 
old-fashioned. Why, I have had it these six 
months ! Still, that is not all ; after the ball comes 
the supper, I suppose." 

"A supper-sition," said Marcel, who had a mania 
for making puns, especially of a morning when he 
was terrible. 

Rodolphe had won at lansquenet the night before, 
so he took Musette and Marcel to a restaurant 
which had just opened. 

After breakfast, as none of the party had the 
slightest inclination for sleep, they decided to finish 
their day in the country ; and since the railway 
station was quite near, they took the first train for 
Saint Germain. 

All day long they wandered through the woods, 
only returning to Paris at seven in the evening, and 
then it was in spite of Marcel, who persisted that 
it was still only half-past twelve, and that if it 
looked dark it was because the sky was overcast. 

The fact was, that Marcel had been smitten with 

Mile. Musette's charms ; he had a heart like a 

barrel of powder, a single glance set it alight ; as 

he told Rodolphe, he had paid his addresses to her 

93 



The Latin Quarter 

in no slight fashion. He had even offered to buy 
the fair lady a handsomer suite of furniture with 
the proceeds of his famous picture, "The Crossing 
of the Red Sea," for which reason he beheld with 
dismay the approach of the moment when they 
must part ; for though Musette allowed him to 
kiss her fingers and other accessories, she allowed 
matters to go no further, and gently repulsed him 
every time that he tried to make a burglarious 
entry into her heart. 

Arrived at Paris, Rodolphe left them, and Musette 
asked Marcel to escort her to her door. 

" May I be allowed to come and see you ? " asked 
Marcel ; " I am going to paint your portrait." 

" I cannot give you my address, my dear fellow, 
for by to-morrow I probably shall not have one. 
But I will come to see you ; I am going to mend 
your coat. There is a hole in it so big that any- 
body could move out through it without paying the 
landlord." 

"I shall look for your coming as for the Mes- 
siah ! " exclaimed Marcel. 

"You will not have so long to wait," laughed 
Musette. 

"What a charming girl!" said Marcel to him- 
self, as he strolled away. "She is the goddess of 
gaiety. I shall make two holes in my coat." 

He had not gone thirty paces before someone 
tapped him on the shoulder. It was Mile. Musette. 

"My dear M. Marcel," she began, "are you a 
chivalrous Frenchman ? " 

" I am ; * Rubens and my Lady ' is my motto." 

"Well then, give ear, noble sir, and have com- 
94 



Mademoiselle Musette 

passion upon my strait," went on Musette, who had 
some tincture of letters, though she murdered 
grammar in a way that recalled the Massacre of 
St. Bartholomew. " My landlord has carried off the 
key of my room, and it is eleven o'clock at night 
do you understand? " 

" I do," returned Marcel, offering his arm, and he 
brought her to his studio on the Quai aux Fleurs. 

Musette was so sleepy that she could scarcely 
stand, but she had enough energy left to say, as 
she shook Marcel's hand 

" Remember your promise." 

"Oh, Musette, charming girl," returned he, with 
a quiver in his voice, "you are beneath a hospitable 
roof. Sleep in peace. Good night, I am going out." 

"Why?" asked Musette, with half-open eyes. 
" I am not in the least afraid, I assure you. Be- 
sides, there are two rooms here ; I will sleep on 
your sofa." 

"My sofa is too hard to be slept upon; it is 
stuffed with flock made of flints. I offer you hospi- 
tality in my house, and will throw myself upon that 
of a friend who lives on the same landing ; it is 
more prudent. I usually keep my word, but I am 
twenty-two years old, and you, oh, Musette, are 
eighteen ! So I am going ; good night ! " 

Next morning, at eight o'clock, Marcel, with a 
pot of flowers which he had bought in the market, 
found that Musette had flung herself down, dressed 
as she was, on the bed, and was still lying there fast 
asleep. Some sounds that Marcel made awoke her. 
She held out her hand. 

"Good fellow!" she said. 
95 



The Latin Quarter 

" Good fellow ! " repeated Marcel. " Are you sure 
that is not the same as saying that I am ridiculous ? " 

"Oh, why do you say that? It is not nice of 
you. Just give me that lovely jar of flowers instead 
of saying unkind things." 

"Indeed, I brought them up here for you," said 
Marcel. "Pray take them, and sing me one of 
your charming songs in return for my hospitality ; 
the echo here in my garret may perhaps keep some- 
thing of your voice, and I shall hear you still after 
you are gone." 

"Ah! so you mean to put me out at the door," 
returned Musette; "and how if I do not mean to 
go ? Listen, Marcel ; having come up thirty-six 
steps, I may say what I think. I like you, and you 
like me. It is not love, but the seed of love, 
perhaps. Well, I am not going ; I shall stay, and I 
shall stay here till the flowers that you have just 
given me are withered." 

"Oh, but they will be withered in two days!" 
cried Marcel. "If I had known I would have 
brought you everlasting flowers ! " 



For a fortnight Musette and Marcel led the most 
delightful life imaginable, though they were often 
without a penny. Musette's tender feeling for the 
artist was something quite unlike anything that she 
had known before, and Marcel on his side began to 
fear that he was taking this love affair too seriously. 
He did not know that his mistress was very much 
afraid of falling in love with him. Every morning, 
as he looked at the flowers which were to give the 
96 



Mademoiselle Musette 

signal for parting, he was sorely puzzled to account 
for their daily renewed freshness ; but he soon found 
a clue to the mystery. One night he awoke, and 
missed Musette at his side. He rose, hurried across 
the room, and found her watering the flowers. 
Every night while he was asleep she tended them, 
for fear they should die. 




97 



VII 
FLOODS OF PACTOLUS 

TWAS the nineteenth of March. . . . Rodolphe 
will never forget that date, though he should 
live to the age of M. Raoul-Rochette, who beheld 
the foundation of Nineveh, for it was on that day 
(the day of St. Joseph), at three o'clock in the after- 
noon, that our friend came out of a bank where he 
had just drawn the sum of five hundred francs in 
hard cash current coin of the realm. 

The first use that Rodolphe made of this slice 
of Peru which had just dropped into his pocket 
was not to pay his debts by any means, though 
at the same time he had registered a vow to go in 
for economy, and to buy nothing extra. Indeed, he 
had extremely decided views on this subject, being 
wont to say that necessities ought to come before 
superfluities, and that was why, leaving his creditors 
unpaid, he bought instead a long-coveted Turkish 
pipe. 

Thus provided, Rodolphe set out for the abode of 
his friend Marcel, with whom he had lodged for 
some time, and walked into the studio, his pockets 
jingling like a peal of village bells for some high 
holiday. Marcel, hearing the unwonted sounds, 
thought that a neighbour, a "bear" op the Stock 
98 



Floods of Pactolus 

Exchange, must be reckoning up his profits, and 
muttered 

"Here is that intriguer near by, at his epigrams 
again ! If this sort of thing keeps on I shall give 
notice. One cannot work with such a racket in the 
house. It makes you think of quitting the estate 
of a poor artist to turn into that of the forty thieves." 
And without the faintest suspicion that his friend 
Rodolphe had been transformed into a Croesus, 
he set to work again on his picture, "The Crossing 
of the Red Sea," which had been on the easel some 
three years. 

Rodolphe meanwhile had not said a word ; in his 
own mind he was ruminating on an experiment 
which he meant to try on his friend. "We will 
have some fine fun directly," he said to himself. 
"What a joke! Bless me!" and he dropped a 
five-franc piece on the floor. 

Marcel looked up and saw Rodolphe looking as 
serious as an article in the Revue des deux Mondes. 
The artist picked up the coin with an air of great 
satisfaction, for rapin as he was, he was something 
of a man of the world, and could be very polite to 
strangers. He knew besides that Rodolphe had 
gone out for money, and seeing that his friend had 
succeeded, confined himself to admiring results 
without inquiring into the means by which they 
had been obtained. 

So he worked away without a word, and drowned 
an Egyptian in the billows of the Red Sea. The 
homicide was just accomplished when Rodolphe let 
fall another five-franc piece, and watching the face 
that the artist made, laughed in his beard (a tricolor 
99 



The Latin Quarter 

beard, as everybody knows). For at the ring-ing 
sound of metal Marcel sprang up as if electrified, 
crying 

" What ! Is there a second verse ? " 

A third coin rolled along the floor, and another, 
and again another, till at last a whole quadrille of 
five-franc pieces was dancing in the room. 

Marcel was beginning to show visible symptoms 
of mental derangement, while his friend laughed 
like the pit of the Theatre Francais at the first 
night performance of Jeanne de Flandre, when all 
at once without any warning Rodolphe dived into 
his pockets with both hands, and the crown-pieces 
began a fabulous steeplechase. It was like Pactolus 
in flood, or the appearance of Jove before Danae. 

Marcel stood staring fixedly, motionless and mute. 
Astonishment had wrought in him a change similar 
to that brought about in Lot's wife of yore, when 
she fell a victim to curiosity ; so when Rodolphe 
flung his last pile of a hundred francs on the floor, 
one side of the painter's body was turned to salt 
already. 

As for Rodolphe, he was still laughing with a 
tempestuous hilarity, compared with which the 
thunders of M. Sax's orchestra would seem but 
the sigh of a suckling. 

Dazzled, throttled and dazed with emotion, 
Marcel thought he must be dreaming ; he tried 
to drive away the nightmare and bit his fingers till 
they bled, whereby he hurt himself so horribly that 
he was like to cry aloud for pain, and so, perceiving 
that he was broad awake and that a quantity of 
gold lay under his feet, he exclaimed like a character 
in a tragedy 

100 



Floods of Pactolus 

" Am I to believe my eyes? " 

Then taking Rodolphe's hand in his, he added, 
4 'Give me the explanation of this mystery." 

" If I did, it would not be a mystery any longer." 

"Still, tell me." 

"This gold is the fruit of the sweat of my 
brow," explained Rodolphe as he picked it up and 
arranged it on a table. Then, drawing back a few 
paces, he looked respectfully at the piles of francs, 
thinking within himself 

" So now am I going to realise my dreams ! " 

" It cannot be far off six thousand francs," mur- 
mured Marcel, staring at the coins on the table. 
"I have an idea. I will adjure Rodolphe to buy 
my 'Crossing of the Red Sea.'" 

But all at once Rodolphe assumed a theatrical 
pose, and, with great solemnity of gesture and voice, 
said 

"Hear me, Marcel; the fortune which glitters 
beneath your eyes is in no wise the result of vile 
manoeuvres ; I have not trafficked in my pen ; I am 
rich, but honest. That gold was given me by a 
generous hand ; I have sworn to utilise it in acquir- 
ing by work a position worthy of an honest man. 
Work is the most sacred of duties 

"And the horse is the noblest of animals," inter- 
rupted Marcel. " Look here ! " he went on, " what 
may this oration mean, and where did you get that 
prose ? You have been taking a course at the school 
of common sense, no doubt." 

"Do not interrupt; a truce to your raillery! 
It will fall blunted, besides, on the cuirass of an 
invulnerable will, in which henceforth I am em- 
panoplied." 

101 



The Latin Quarter 

" Come, come, that is enough of such a prologue. 
What are you driving at ? " 

"These are my projects: Sheltered from the 
material embarrassments of life, I shall set to work 
seriously ; I am going to finish my fairy piece, and 
to achieve a settled position in public esteem. In 
the first place, I am renouncing Bohemia ; I am 
going to dress like everybody else ; I mean to have 
a black frock coat and to go into society. If you 
like to take my way, we can go on living together, 
but my programme is to be adopted. The strictest 
economy shall be the rule of our lives. If we 
manage wisely, we have three months of steady 
work assured to us, with no need to think of any- 
thing else. But economy is necessary." 

" My friend," said Marcel, " economy is a science 
which only the wealthy can afford to study ; whence 
it follows that you and I are ignorant of its first 
elements. Still, by making an outlay of six francs 
we can purchase the works of M. Jean-Baptiste 
Say, a very distinguished economist, and from him 
perhaps we may learn the best manner of practis- 
ing that art. ... I say ! Have you a Turkish 
pipe ? " 

" Yes," said Rodolphe ; " I gave twenty-five francs 
for it." 

"What! twenty-five francs for a pipe, and you 
are talking of economy? " 

"This is certainly one," returned Rodolphe. " I 
used to break a penny pipe every day of my life ; 
at the year's end the expense amounted to a good 
deal more than twenty-five francs. So it really is an 
economy." 

1 02 



Floods of Pactolus 

" So it is," said Marcel; "you are right. I should 
never have thought of that." 

A neighbouring clock struck six at that moment. 

" Let us be quick and dine," said Rodolphe. " I 
want to begin this very night. But a propos of 
dinner I have an observation to make. We waste 
valuable time every day by doing our own cooking ; 
now for the worker time is money ; so we cannot 
afford to waste time. From this day hence we will 
go out for our meals." 

"Yes," assented Marcel, "there is an excellent 
restaurant only a few steps away ; it is a little ex- 
pensive, but as it is near we shall not have so far to 
walk ; the economy of time will make up for any 
extra expense." 

"We will go there to-day," said Rodolphe, "but 
to-morrow and for the future we will hit upon a still 
more economical plan. Instead of going out to a 
restaurant we will engage a cook " 

" No, no," Marcel put in, " we had better engage 
a man-servant who will also cook for us. Just see 
the immense advantage of such a plan. To begin 
with, the housework would always be done for us ; 
the man will black our boots and wash out my 
brushes and do our errands ; I would even try to 
inculcate some taste for the fine arts and take him 
as a student. In this way we should save at least 
six hours a day spent upon occupations which only 
spoil our work." 

"Ha!" cried Rodolphe, "/ have an idea, too 
but let us go and dine." 

Five minutes later the friends were installed in 
a private room in the aforesaid restaurant, con- 
tinuing their discourse on economy. 
103 



The Latin Quarter 

" Here is my idea ! How, if instead of engaging 
a servant, we were to take a mistress?" hazarded 
Rodolphe. 

" One mistress for two ! " Marcel cried in dismay. 
"It would be pushing avarice to the verge of 
extravagance ; we should squander all our savings 
in buying knives with which to cut each other's 
throats ! I am for the man-servant. In the first 
place, he would give us importance. 

"So he would; we will procure an intelligent 
young fellow, and if he has some notion of spelling 
I will teach him the editor's craft." 

"That will be a resource for his old age," said 
Marcel as he added up the bill, which amounted 
to fifteen francs. " I say, that is rather dear ! As 
a rule we both of us dine for thirty sous." 

"Yes," said Rodolphe, "but we dined badly, and 
were obliged to take supper afterwards. So looked 
at all round this is an economy." 

"You are the cleverer, as one may say," the 
artist remarked under his breath, completely sub- 
jugated by this argument, "you are always right. 
Are we going to work this evening? " 

" Faith, no. I am going to see my uncle, he is 
a good man ; I am going to tell him about my new 
position, and he will give me some good advice. 
And how about you, where are you going, 
Marcel ? " 

"I? I am going to old Medicis to see if he has 
pictures for me to restore. By-the-by, let me have 
five francs." 

"For what?" 

" To cross the Pont des Arts." 
104 



Floods of Pactolus 

"Oh, but that is a needless expense, and trifling 
as it is it is a deviation from our principle." 

"I was wrong it is a fact," said Marcel. " I 
will go by the Pont Neuf but I shall take a cab." 

And the friends separated, each going a different 
way ; though by a strange coincidence both ways 
led straight to the same spot, where they met. 

"Why! then you have not found your uncle at 
home ? " asked Marcel. 

"And Medicis was out?" retorted Rodolphe. 

And they both burst out laughing. 

Still they both reached home at a very early hour 
of the morning. 

Another two days found Marcel and Rodolphe 
completely metamorphosed. Both dressed like 
bridegrooms for a first-class wedding ; looking so 
handsome, elegant and sleek that they hardly 
knew each other in the street. 

Their system of economy was nevertheless in full 
swing, but the organisation of the work had been 
very difficult to carry out. A man-servant of Swiss 
origin had been engaged. He was a tall fellow of 
four-and-thirty, with an intelligence about on a par 
with that of Jocrisse. What was more, he had no 
vocation for domestic service. If either of his 
masters entrusted Baptiste with a parcel of a size 
visible to the naked eye, he would redden with 
indignation and send a commissionaire on the 
errand. Still, Baptiste had his good points. He 
could turn out a dish of jugged hare, for instance, 
if supplied with the materials ; and as he had been 
a distiller before taking service, and retained a 
great love of his art, he spent a good deal of his 
105 



The Latin Quarter 

masters' time in experimenting 1 on the composition 
of a new and superior specific for wounds and 
bruises, to which he intended to give his name. 
He also excelled in the compounding of walnut 
cordial. But in one respect Baptiste was unrivalled, 
and this was the art of smoking Marcel's cigars 
and lighting them with Rodolphe's manuscript. 

At length one day Marcel proposed that Baptiste 
should sit to him in costume as Pharaoh for his 
"Crossing of the Red Sea." This suggestion 
Baptiste met by a point-blank refusal and a request 
for his wages. 

"Good," said Marcel, "you shall be paid to- 
night." 

When Rodolphe came in, his friend declared that 
Baptiste must be sent away. " He is of no use 
whatsoever," said Rodolphe. 

"True," assented Marcel, "he is a living object 
of art." 

"He is as stupid as any goose that ever was 
roasted." 

"He is idle." 

"He must go." 

" Let us dismiss him." 

"Still, he has his good points, after all. His 
jugged hare is very good." 

"And his walnut cordial, too. He is the Rafael 
of walnut cordial." 

"Yes ; but that is all he is fit for, and that will 
hardly do for us. We waste our whole days in 
arguing with him." 

" He is a hindrance to work." 

"I have not been able to finish my 'Crossing of 
106 



Floods of Pactolus 

the Red Sea ' for the Salon, and it is his fault ; he 
would not sit for Pharaoh." 

"Thanks to him, I have not been able to finish 
the piecework I was asked to do. He would not 
go to the library to look up some notes that I 
wanted." 

" He is ruining" us." 

" We really cannot keep him on." 

"Let us dismiss him. But if we do we ought to 
pay him off." 

"We are going to pay him, but go he must. 
Give me the money, and I can settle the accounts." 

" What money? But you are cashier, not I." 

"Not at all; you are treasurer. You undertook 
the general management," said Rodolphe. 

" But I have no money, I assure you ! " exclaimed 
Marcel. 

"Is it possible that there is none left already? 
No ; impossible ! No one can spend five hundred 
francs in one week, especially living, as we have 
done, with the most rigid economy, limiting our- 
selves to the strictly necessary." ("To the strictly 
superfluous," he ought to have said.) "We must 
go through the accounts," added Rodolphe, "and 
we shall find out the mistake." 

"Yes," agreed Marcel, "but we shall not find 
the money. It is all one ; let us look at the 
books." 

Behold a specimen of the sort of book-keeping 
begun in the sacred name of economy 

" * igth March. Received : 500 frs. Spent : A 
Turkish pipe, 25 frs. ; dinner, 15 frs. ; sundries, 
40 frs.'" 

107 



The Latin Quarter 

"What may those sundries be?" interrupted 
Rodolphe, as Marcel read out the item. 

"You know quite well; it was the night when 
we only got home in the morning. There was a 
clear saving of coal and candle light, at any rate." 

"And next? Go on." 

" ' 2oth March. Lunch, i fr. 500.; tobacco, 20 c. ; 
dinner, 2 frs. ; an eye-glass, 2 frs. 50 c.' Oh!" 
exclaimed Marcel, interrupting himself, "that eye- 
glass goes down to your account. What did you 
want with an eye-glass ? You can see perfectly 

" I had to write a notice of the Salon for the 
Iris, as you know ; it is impossible to do art criticism 
without an eye-glass. It was a legitimate expense. 
What next?" 

" ' A Malacca cane ' " 

"Cane now! that goes to your account," put in 
Rodolphe, "you do not need a cane." 

"That is all that we spent on the 2oth," said 
Marcel, taking no notice of this remark. "On the 
2ist we went out to lunch, and to dine and to sup." 

' ' We ought not to have spent very much that day. " 

" Very little, as a fact barely thirty francs." 

"But on what?" 

"I can't recollect now; but it goes down under 
'Sundries.'" 

"A vague and misleading heading," observed 
Rodolphe. 

" ' 22nd March.' That was the day Baptiste came. 
We let him have five francs on account of wages ; ' a 
Barbary organ, * 50 c.; to save the lives of four little 
Chinese children condemned to be flung into the 

* A barrel organ. 
1 08 



Floods of Pactolus 

Yellow River by the incredible barbarity of their 
parents, 2 frs. 40 c.'" 

" Oh, come now ! " cried Rodolphe, "just explain 
the glaring contradictions contained in those words. 
If you subsidise the Barbary organ, why sneer at 
the barbarous parents? And besides, why was it 
necessary to preserve some orange-skinned Chinese 
infants? If they had been China oranges, you 
might have preserved them in brandy." 

" 'Tis my nature to be generous," returned 
Marcel. "Here, go on; so far we have kept 
pretty close to the principle of economy." 

"On the 23rd there is nothing particular; the 
same may be said of the 24th. On the 25th, ' gave 
Baptiste on account, 3 frs." 1 

" He has been given money very often, it seems 
to me," said Marcel by way of a reflection. 

"There will be all the less to pay him," returned 
Rodolphe. "Goon." 

" ' 26th March. Sundries and necessities for art, 
36 frs. 40 c.' " 

"Why, what can we have bought that was so 
useful?" queried Rodolphe; "I remember nothing 
myself. 36 frs. 40 c. ' ! What can it be ? " 

" How is it you don't remember? That was the 
day when we went up the towers of Notre Dame to 
see the bird's-eye view of Paris." 

" But it only costs eight sous to go up the towers ! " 

" Yes ; but when we came down again we went to 
Saint Germain to dine." 

"Your wording is lucid to a fault." 

" And on the 27th there is nothing particular." 

" Good ! There is economy for you ! " 
109 



The Latin Quarter 

" On the 28th. 'To Baptiste, on account of wages, 
6frs.'" 

"Aha! I am quite sure this time that we owe 
Baptiste nothing ; it might even turn out that he 
is in our debt. That must be looked into." 

"On the 2gth. Dear me, there is nothing down 
for the 29th, and instead there is the beginning of 
an article on morals ! " 

"Then the 3Oth. Ah! we had some friends to 
dine with us. A heavy expense 30 frs. 55 c. The 
3ist, that is to-day. We have not spent anything 
yet. You see," said Marcel in conclusion, "that 
the accounts have been accurately kept. The total 
does not amount to five hundred francs." 

" In that case, then, there must be some cash in 
hand." 

"We can see," said Marcel, opening a drawer. 
" No, there is nothing left ; there is only a spider ! " 

"A spider in the morning is as good as a warn- 
ing," said Rodolphe. 

"Where the deuce could so much money go?" 
began Marcel, aghast at the sight of the empty 
cash-box. 

"Why, hang it all, it is quite plain!" retorted 
Rodolphe. "Baptiste has had it!" 

" Stay, though," cried Marcel, catching sight of 
a scrap of paper in the drawer. " Here is a demand 
for last quarter's rent ! " 

"Pshaw!" said Rodolphe. "How did it get 
there?" 

"And receipted too!" added Marcel. "So you 
have been paying the landlord ! " 

"I? Oh, come now!" 
no 



Floods of Pactolus 



"Then what does this mean? 
" But I assure you " 



" Pray, what means this mystery? " 

They sang in chorus from the finale of the Dame 
Blanche ; and Baptiste, being fond of music, came 
hurrying in at once. 

Marcel held up the receipt. 

"Oh yes," Baptiste remarked carelessly, "I 
forgot to tell you that the landlord came in this 
morning, while you were out. I paid him to save 
him the trouble of coming again." 

"Where did you find the money?" 

"Oh, I took it, sir! The drawer was open. It 
even occurred to me that you left it open on purpose, 
and I said to myself, * My masters forgot to say 
when they went out, "Baptiste, the landlord will 
come for the quarter that is due, and he must be 
paid.' " So I did it as if I had had my orders with- 
out being ordered." 

"Baptiste! " said Marcel in a white heat of pas- 
sion, "you went beyond your orders. From this 
day you are no longer in our service. Baptiste, give 
up your livery ! " 

Baptiste took off the oil-cloth cap which composed 
his livery, and handed it to Marcel. 

"Well and good," said the latter, "now you can 
go." 

" And my wages ? " 

"What do you say, you rogue? You have had 
more than your due. You have had fourteen francs 
in less than a fortnight. What are you doing with 
so much money? Are you keeping a dancer? " 

" On the tight-rope," added Rodolphe. 



The Latin Quarter 

"And am I to be left homeless, without so much 
as a shelter for my head?" cried the wretched 
domestic. 

Marcel was touched, in spite of himself. "Take 
back your livery," he said, handing the cap to 
Baptiste. 

"And yet he is the miserable scoundrel who has 
squandered our fortune," said Rodolphe, as the 
hapless Baptiste departed. "Where shall we dine 
to-day?" 

"We shall know that to-morrow," returned 
Marcel. 



112 



VIII 
WHAT A CROWN-PIECE COSTS 

ONE Saturday evening, in the days before 
Rodolphe and Mile. Mimi kept house to- 
gether (as shall be shown in due time), it so fell 
out that that gentleman made the acquaintance of 
one Mile. Laure, who dined at the same ordinary. 
Now Mile. Laure kept a toilet repository, and 
when she discovered that Rodolphe was editor of 
two fashion papers, the Iris and the Castor, plied 
him with provocative and eloquent glances in the 
hope of obtaining an advertisement for her wares. 
To these Rodolphe had replied with a display of 
poetical fireworks thrown off in a way that would 
have driven Benserade, Voiture and all the Rug- 
gieris of the "gallant style" wild with envy; and 
dinner ended, Mile. Laure perceiving that Rodolphe 
was a poet, gave him to understand pretty plainly 
that she was far from averse to accepting him as 
her Petrarch. She even made a tryst for the morrow 
without any beating about the bush. 

"By Jove," thought Rodolphe, as he escorted 
Mile. Laure to her lodging, "she is really an 
amiable woman ; she seems to me to possess some 
knowledge of grammar, and a fairly well replenished 
wardrobe. I fed quite disposed to make her happy." 
i 113 



The Latin Quarter 

Arrived at Mile. Laure's door, that lady thanked 
him for so kindly taking the trouble to come with 
her to such an out-of-the-way quarter. 

"Ah, madame ! " returned Rodolphe, bowing to 
the ground before her, " I could have wished that 
you dwelt at Moscow or in the Straits Settlements, 
that my pleasure in acting as your escort might be 
prolonged." 

"It is rather far," simpered Mile. Laure. 

"We should have gone by the Boulevards, 
madame," said Rodolphe. "Permit me to kiss 
your hand, in the person of your cheek," he added, 
kissing his companion on the lips before she could 
stop him. 

" Monsieur ! " she exclaimed, " you are going too 
fast." 

"So as to arrive all the sooner," said Rodolphe. 
"The first stages of love should be taken at a 
gallop." 

" An odd man ! " thought the milliner as she went 
upstairs. 

" A pretty woman ! " said Rodolphe to himself as 
he turned away. And back again in his own 
quarters, he went straight to bed and dreamed the 
sweetest dreams. He beheld himself parading with 
Mile. Laure at balls and theatres and in public 
places, and the lady on his arm wore dresses more 
splendid than those of any coquettish princess in a 
fairy tale. 

Next day, at eleven o'clock, Rodolphe rose accord- 
ing to custom, and his first thought was for Mile. 
Laure. 

"A very pretty woman," muttered he. "I am 
114 



What a Crown-piece Costs 

sure she was brought up at Saint Denis. So at 
last I am to know the happiness of having a mistress 
that is not dowdy-looking. I positively must make 
some sacrifice for her. I shall draw my pay at the 
Iris office to-day ; I will buy a pair of gloves and 
take Laure to dine at a restaurant where there are 
table napkins. My coat is not very elegant," he 
went on as he dressed " pooh ! it is black, though, 
and that is the great thing." And he set out for 
the office of the Iris. 

Just as he crossed the street he met an omnibus, 
and pasted over one of the panels was a handbill 
thus conceived: "This day, Sunday, the Great 
Fountains will play at Versailles." 

A thunderbolt dropping at Rodolphe's feet could 
not have made a more profound impression than the 
sight of that bill. 

"'This day, Sunday'! I had forgotten that it 
was Sunday, and now I shall not get the money. 
'This day, Sunday'! Why, all the five-franc pieces 
at Paris will be rolling out to Versailles." 

Still, urged on by the illusive hopes which spring 
eternal in the breast of man, Rodolphe hurried to 
the office in case some blessed chance should have 
brought the cashier. 

M. Boniface, he found, had actually been there, 
but had gone away again almost immediately. 
"To go to Versailles," so the office boy told 
Rodolphe. 

"Come," he said to himself, "there is an end of 
that. But, let us see," he continued, "my appoint- 
ment is not until evening. * is noon ; so I have 
five hours in which to find five francs twenty sous 
"5 



The Latin Quarter 

per hour like the horses in the Bois de Boulogne. 

So come along-." 

As he happened to be in the neighbourhood of 

the journalist whom he styled the influential critic, 

Rodolphe bethought himself of trying something in 

that quarter. 

" I am sure to find him at home," he thought, as 

he climbed the stairs. "It is his 'special column' 

day, there is no fear of his going out. I shall 

borrow five francs of him." 

" Eh ! what, is that you? " said the literary man 

at sight of Rodolphe. "Just the man I want; 

I have a little favour to ask of you." 

"Just my case," thought the editor of the Iris. 

" Were you at the Ode"on yesterday? " 

" I am always at the Ode" on." 

"Then you saw the new piece there ? " 

"Who but I ? I am the audience at the Od6on." 

"True," returned the critic, "you are one of the 

caryatids of that theatre. There is even a rumour 

current that you subsidise that institution. Well, 

this is what I want to ask a paragraph about the 

new play." 

"That is easy ; I have the memory of a dun." 
" Whose is the new piece? " the critic inquired, as 

Rodolphe wrote. 

" It is by a gentleman." 

" It is not likely to be a strong play." 

" Not as strong as a Turk, assuredly." 

"Then it is nothing very powerful. The Turks 

don't deserve their reputation for strength, you see ; 

they could not be Savoyards." 
" And what hinders them ? " 
116 



What a Crown-piece Costs 

4 'They can't, because all the Savoyards are 
Auvergnats, and the Auvergnats are street porters. 
What is more, there are no Turks left, except perhaps 
at the masked balls at the Barriers and in the Champs 
Elysees, where they sell dates. The Turk is a super- 
stition. I have a friend who knows the East ; he 
assured me that all nations came originally out of 
the Rue Coquenard." 

"That is a pretty thing to say." 

"Think so? " said the critic. " I will put it into 
my column." 

" Here is my analysis ; it is an analysis too, and 
no mistake." 

"Yes, but it is short." 

"You can fill up with putting in dashes, and de- 
veloping your critical opinion." 

"I have hardly time enough for that, my dear 
fellow, and then my critical opinion does not take 
up space enough." 

"You can put in an adjective at every third 
word." 

"Could you not slip a little, or rather a long 
appreciation of the piece into your analysis, eh ? " 

" Lord ! " returned Rodolphe, " I have some ideas 
of my own on tragedy, but I warn you I have 
printed them three times in the Castor and the Iris. 

"That is of no consequence; how many lines 
would your ideas take up ? " 

"Forty." 

"The deuce! You have large ideas of your 
own ! Well, let me have the loan of your forty 
lines." 

"Good," thought Rodolphe. "If I do twenty 
117 



The Latin Quarter 

francs' worth of copy for him, he cannot refuse to 
lend me five francs. I ought to warn you," he went 
on, addressing the critic, "that my ideas are not 
altogether novel. They are a trifle rubbed at the 
elbow. Before printing them at all I have yelled 
them aloud in every cafe in Paris ; there is not a 
waiter that does not know them by heart." 

" Oh ! what does that matter to me ? Why, you 
cannot know me ! Is there anything new under the 
sun except virtue ? " 

"Here it is," said Rodolphe, as he came to an 
end. 

" Thunder and tempest ! Still two columns short. 
With what can I fill the abyss ? " cried the critic. 
"While you are about it, just oblige me with a few 
paradoxes." 

" I have none about me," said Rodolphe ; "still, 
I can lend you one or two, only they are not my 
own. I bought them for fifty centimes apiece of a 
friend who was hard up. They have not been much 
used yet." 

"Very good," said the critic, and Rodolphe set 
himself to write afresh. 

"Ha!" thought he, "I shall certainly ask him 
for ten francs now ; in these times paradoxes are as 
dear as partridges." And he knocked off a score of 
lines of remarkable nonsense concerning pianos, red 
mullet, the common-sense school and Rhine wine 
which he called Rhine toilet-vinegar. 

"Very pretty!" pronounced the critic; "be so 
much my friend as to add that there are more 
honest people in the hulks than anywhere else." 

"Bless me! why that?" 
iiS 



What a Crown-piece Costs 

"To make two more lines. Good, that is done," 
said the influential critic, and he called to his servant 
to take the copy to the printer. 

" Now let us go for him," thought Rodolphe, and 
he soberly articulated his request. 

"Oh, my dear fellow, I have not a sou here! 
Lolotte is the ruination of me with her cosmetics. 
She has just waylaid me, and carried off my last 
brass farthing to go to Versailles to see the Nereids 
and brazen monsters spout." 

"Versailles! There now!" said Rodolphe, "why 
it is an epidemic ! " 
. " But what do you want money for? " 

"Here is the ditty. I have an appointment at 
five o'clock with a lady, a woman of fashion, who 
never goes out except in an omnibus. I should like 
to unite our destinies (for a few days), and it seems 
only decent to enable her to enjoy something of the 
sweetness of life dinners, dances, walks and the 
like. I absolutely must have five francs. If I can- 
not find the money French literature is disgraced 
in my person." 

" Why not borrow the sum of the lady herself? " 
cried the critic. 

"That is hardly possible, the very first time. No 
one but you can get me out of this fix." 

" By all the mummies in Egypt, I swear to you 
on my sacred word of honour, that I have not 
enough to buy a halfpenny pipe. Still, I have 
a few books there, which you might melt down 
into cash." 

"To-day, Sunday; impossible! Mother Mansut, 
Lebigre and all the other skinflints on the quays 
119 



The Latin Quarter 

and in the Rue Saint Jacques are shut. What are 
your books? Volumes of poetry, with the portrait 
of the author in spectacles? There is no sale for 
that kind of thing." 

" Not unless they are sold by order of the Court," 
said the critic. " Stay a bit, though, there are some 
novels besides and some concert tickets. If you 
manage cleverly you might turn them into money." 

"I would rather have something else a pair of 
trousers, for instance." 

" Come, now ! " said the critic, "take the Bossuet, 
and the plaster cast of M. Odilon Barrot ; it is the 
widow's mite, upon my honour." 

" You are doing your best, I see," said Rodolphe. 
" I will carry off these treasures, but if I get thirty 
sous out of them I shall think of it as a thirteenth 
labour of Hercules." 

By dint of walking some ten miles or so, and 
exerting a certain faculty of eloquence which 
Rodolphe knew how to use on great occasions, he 
succeeded in inducing his laundress to lend him a 
couple of francs on the security of his consignment 
of poetry and novels with M. Barrot's portrait. 

"Come," said he as he went back across the 
river, "we have the sauce, now for the dish. 
Suppose I go to my uncle." 

Half an hour later his Uncle Monetti read his 
nephew's countenance, and knew what was coming. 
So, being on his guard, he was beforehand with his 
young relative, and began at once with a series of 
recriminations, as thus 

Times were bad ; bread was dear ; outstanding 

120 



What a Crown-piece Costs 

debts were not paid ; rent must be paid ; trade was 
going to the dogs ; and so forth, and so forth, 
through the whole disingenuous tradesmen's litany. 

4 'Would you believe it? I have had to borrow 
money of my own shop-boy to meet a bill ! " 

" You ought to have sent to me," said Rodolphe ; 
"I would have lent you the money. I had two 
hundred francs paid to me three days ago." 

" Thank you, my boy; but you want all you 
have. ... Oh ! while you are here you might 
make out some invoices for me, you that write such 
a good hand. I am just going to send them out." 

"These five francs are like to cost me dear!" 
said Rodolphe to himself as he set to work, but he 
cut short his task. 

"I know how fond you are of music, my dear 
uncle," he began, turning to Monetti, "so I have 
brought you some tickets for a concert." 

"Very kind of you, my boy. Will you stay and 
dine with me ? " 

"Thank you, uncle; I have an invitation to 
dinner in the Faubourg Saint Germain. By-the-by, 
it is annoying ; I shall not have time to go home 
for money, and I must buy a pair of gloves." 

"You have no gloves ? Will you borrow mine ? " 

"Thanks ; no. The size is different ; still, if you 
would oblige me by a loan of 

"Twenty-nine sous to buy a pair? Certainly, 
my boy, here is the money. You must be well 
dressed if you go into society. Better be envied 
than pitied, as your aunt used to say. Come, now, 
you are getting on, I see. So much the better. I 
would let you have more," he went on, " but that is 

121 



The Latin Quarter 

all I have in the till ; I should have to go upstairs, 
and I cannot leave the shop, customers drop in every 
minute." 

" And you were saying that trade was slack ! " 

Uncle Monetti did not seem to hear this remark. 

"There is no hurry about returning it," he said, 
as his nephew pocketed the coins. 

"What a skinflint!" said Rodolphe, as he made 
good his escape. " Let us see, now still thirty-one 
sous short. Where are they to come from? But, 
come to think of it, let us go to the Carrefour de 
la Providence." For thus Rodolphe was wont to 
designate that very centre of Paris the Palais 
Royal a spot where it is almost impossible to wait 
for a few minutes without meeting as many persons 
of your acquaintance (more particularly creditors). 
So Rodolphe took his stand on the steps of the 
Palais Royal. This time Providence was long in 
coming ; but at last Rodolphe perceived a manifesta- 
tion. It took the shape of a figure in a white hat 
and a green overcoat, and it carried a gold-headed 
cane a very well-dressed Providence indeed. 

Providence, in short, was a good-natured young 
fellow, and well to do, though a Socialist. 

"I am delighted to see you," he said, as he en- 
countered Rodolphe. "Come my way for a bit, 
and we will talk." 

"Oh, come, I am condemned to the torture of 
Socialism," muttered Rodolphe, submitting to be 
dragged along by the owner of the white hat, 
who, indeed, badgered him without mercy. As 
they reached the Pont des Arts Rodolphe inter- 
rupted him. 

122 



What a Crown-piece Costs 

11 1 must go ; I have not the wherewithal to pay 
this toll." 

"Pooh!" said the other, throwing two sous to 
the pensioner. 

" Now for it ! " thought the editor of the Iris as 
they crossed the river and arrived at the other end. 
He suddenly stopped short at sight of the clock at 
the Institut, and waved his hand despairingly to- 
wards the dial, crying 

" Confound it ! A quarter to five ! It is all over 
with me ! " 

"What is the matter?" asked the other in sur- 
prise. 

"Just this," said Rodolphe : "you have dragged 
me over here in spite of myself, and, thanks to you, 
I have missed an appointment." 

"Was it important? " 

" I should think it was ! I was to call for some 
money at five o'clock at the Batignolles ; I shall 
never do it. Oh, confound it all ! What am I to 
do?" 

"Bless your life, it is very simple," said the 
Socialist. "Come home with me; I will lend 
you the amount." 

"Impossible! You live over at Montrouge, and 
I have business in the Chausee d'Antin at six o'clock. 
Confound it all ! " 

" I have a little small change about me," Provi- 
dence began timidly, " only a very little." 

" If I had enough to pay my cab fare, I might 
possibly arrive at the Batignolles in time." 

"That is all I have, my dear boy thirty-one 
sous." 

123 



The Latin Quarter 

" Let me have it, quick ! for I must be off," said 
Rodolphe. The clock had just struck five, and he 
ran as fast as he could to the trysting-place. 

"It has been hard to come by," he reflected, as 
he counted over his small change. "One hundred 
sous ; good as gold. After all, I am ready. Laure 
shall see that she has to do with a man who under- 
stands how to do things properly. I will not take a 
single centime home with me to-night. It is in- 
cumbent on me to rehabilitate literature and to 
prove that men of letters lack only money to be 
rich." 

Mile. Laure was true to her tryst. 

"That is right!" said he. "Punctual as Bre- 
guet's watches ! " 

They spent the rest of the evening together, and 
Rodolphe's spirited efforts melted his five francs in 
the crucible of prodigality. Mile. Laure was fasci- 
nated by his manner, and was kind enough not to 
notice that Rodolphe was not taking her home until 
he reached his own door and brought her in. 

"I am doing wrong," said she. "Never make 
me repent it by showing the ingratitude which is 
the appanage of your sex." 

" Madame," said Rodolphe, " I am well known for 
my constancy. I carry it, indeed, to such a point 
that my friends all wonder at my fidelity and have 
nicknamed me * a General Bertrand in love.' " 



124 



IX 

POLAR VIOLETS 

IN those days Rodolphe was very much in love 
with his cousin Angele (who could not endure 
him), and the thermometer of the ingenious cheva- 
lier registered twelve degrees below freezing-point. 

Mile. Angele was the daughter of M. Monetti, 
the stove dealer, whose acquaintance the reader has 
made already. Mile. Angele was eighteen years 
old, and had just come home after spending five 
years in Burgundy with a female relative who was 
expected to leave her her fortune. The female rela- 
tive, as it chanced, was an old woman who had 
never been young nor handsome. On the other 
hand, she had always been cross-grained, although 
(and possibly because) she was a bigot in matters of 
religion. Angele, when she left Paris, had been a 
charming child, giving promise already of charming 
womanhood ; but at the end of the five years, 
though she was a handsome girl, she had grown 
frigid, prim and indifferent. A retired life in the 
country, the practices of exaggerated piety and the 
petty conscientious scruples instilled in her, had 
filled her mind with silly and vulgar prejudices and 
narrowed her imagination ; while as for her heart, 
the functions of that organ were strictly limited 
it was merely the balance-wheel of her internal 
125 



The Latin Quarter 

economy. The blood in Angele's veins was (so to 
say) holy water. She gave her cousin a glacial 
reception when they met. In vain did he try to 
touch the tender chords of memory by talking of 
old days, when they played at Paul and Virginia, 
as cousins are very apt to do ; but, after all, 
Rodolphe was very much in love with his cousin 
Angele (who could not endure him). So when he 
heard that the young lady was going to the wedding 
dance of a girl friend he grew bold enough to 
promise Angele a bouquet of violets for the occa- 
sion ; and Angele, after first asking her father's 
permission, accepted her cousin's polite offer, insist- 
ing at the same time, however, that they must be 
white violets. 

Rodolphe was quite delighted to find his cousin in 
a better humour. He skipped away, humming as 
he went, to his ''Mont Saint Bernard," as he called 
his abode, for reasons which will presently appear. 
But as he went through the Palais Royal he saw a 
bouquet of white violets in Mme. Provost's shop 
window, and went in out of curiosity to ask the 
price of that well-known dealer in flowers. A 
presentable bouquet, he found, would cost no less 
than ten francs, but there were others still more 
expensive. 

"Ten francs, and only a week to find all that 
money ! Hang it all ! It will take some getting 
together ; but, all the same, my cousin shall have 
her bouquet. I have an idea." 

These things befell Rodolphe at the genesis of his 
literary career. At that time he was living upon 
fifteen francs a month allowed him by a friend, a 
126 






Polar Violets 

great poet, who, after a long sojourn in Parit>, had 
become a country schoolmaster by dint of influence. 
Rodolphe, however, must have had extravagance 
for his fairy godmother, for his allowance was always 
spent in four days ; and since he could not bring 
himself to abandon his sacred but scarcely remunera- 
tive profession of elegiac poet, he nourished himself 
for the rest of the month on such chance crumbs as 
fell at long intervals from the basket of Providence. 
His Lent had no terror for him ; he even carried 
through it gaily, thanks to a stoical sobriety and 
an exuberant imagination on which he drew daily, 
and so contrived to hold out till the first of the 
month the Easter Day which terminated his fast. 

In those days Rodolphe lived in the Rue Contre- 
scarpe Saint Marcel, in a big old house which used 
to be known as "L'Hotel de rEminence grise" be- 
cause Pere Joseph (Richelieu's instrument) had dwelt 
there, so it was said. The house is one of the 
tallest in Paris, and Rodolphe lodged at the very 
top of it. His room was a sort of belvedere, a 
delightful abode in summer, but between October 
to April a miniature Kamschatka. The four cardinal 
winds made their way in through the four windows 
which faced the points of the compass, and executed 
furious quartettes all winter through ; while the 
chimney-opening, as if in irony, was so large that 
it might have been a state entrance made on purpose 
for Boreas and all his suite. 

Cold weather had no sooner set in than Rodolphe 
devised a systematic plan for obtaining fuel, dividing 
what little furniture he had into successive " fell- 
ings " of timber, by which means his possessions 
127 




Latin Quarter 



were considerably reduced by the end of the week. 
A bedstead and a couple of chairs were still left, 
but these again (to tell the truth) were made of 
cast-iron, and by their nature insured against fire. 
Rodolphe styled this way of keeping a fire "a re- 
moval up the chimney." 

It was the month of January, and the thermometer, 
which registered twelve degrees of frost on the 
Quay des Lunettes, would have gone down another 
point or two, if anyone had carried it up to the 
belvedere which Rodolphe called ''Mont Saint 
Bernard," " Spitzbergen " and "Siberia." 

When Rodolphe came home that night, after 
promising his cousin a bunch of white violets, he 
flew into a great fury. The four cardinal winds 
had broken another pane of glass in a game of puss 
in the corner ; it was the third accident of the kind 
within the fortnight, and Rodolphe broke out into a 
storm of imprecations against /Eolus and all his 
destructive family. 

He then stopped up the new breach with the portrait 
of a friend, and lay down dressed as he was between 
his two mattresses, as he was pleased to call a couple 
of paillasses stuffed with flock and hard as boards. 
And all night long he dreamed of white violets. 

But five days went by ; Rodolphe had found no 
way of realising his dream, and on the next day 
but one he was to give his cousin her bouquet. 
The thermometer meanwhile had dropped still lower, 
and despair fastened upon the wretched poet as he 
reflected that the price of violets had probably 
risen. Providence at last took pity on him, and 
this is how it came about. 
128 



Polar Violets 

One morning Rodolphe dropped in to ask his 
friend Marcel, the painter, to give him breakfast, 
and found the latter in conversation with a woman 
in widow's weeds. It appeared that she lived in 
the neighbourhood, and having recently lost her 
husband, wanted to know how much it would cost 
to paint a man's hand on the tombstone with the 
following inscription 

"MY CHERISHED WIFE, I WAIT FOR THEE." 

To obtain a reduction she pointed out to the artist 
that when it should please God to send her to rejoin 
her husband, a second hand would have to be painted 
with a bracelet on the wrist, and a second inscription 
thus conceived 

"ONCE MORE UNITED NOW ARE WE." 

" I shall put it in my will," the widow was saying, 
"and I shall stipulate that you shall have the com- 
mission." 

"Since that is the manner of it, madam, I accept 
your terms but it is with the expectation of 
the handsel to come. Do not forget me in your 
will." 

" I should like to have it done as soon as pos- 
sible," the widow went on; "still, take your time, 
and don't forget the scar on the thumb. I want a 
hand that looks like life ! " 

"It shall be a speaking likeness, madam; be 
easy as to that," said Marcel, walking to the door 
with her. But just as the lady was going out she 
turned back. 

"I have still something to ask you, mister 
painter," she said, " I should like to have a what- 
K 129 



The Latin Quarter 

doyou-call-it in poetry put on my husband's tomb, 
saying what a good man he was, and his last words 
on his death-bed. Is that the correct thing? " 

" Quite correct. That is what is called an epitaph. 
Very correct indeed ! " 

" I suppose you don't know anybody who can do 
one for me, cheap? There is my neighbour, M. 
Gu6rin, of course, the letter-writer, but he asks the 
coat off one's back ! " 

Rodolphe gave Marcel a look, and Marcel grasped 
the situation at once. 

" Madam," he said, indicating Rodolphe, " a 
fortunate chance has brought someone here who 
may be of use to you under these painful circum- 
stances. This gentleman is a distinguished poet 
you could not find a better." 

"I must have something sad," said the widow, 
" and the spelling must be faultless." 

" Madam, my friend has his spelling at the tips 
of his fingers. He carried off all the prizes at 
school." 

" Indeed ! " said the widow, "my nephew took a 
prize too, and yet he is only seven years old ! " 

" A very precocious child ! " said Marcel. 

"But," said the widow, returning to her point, 
" does this gentleman make sad poetry? " 

"None better, madam ; he has seen a great deal 
of trouble. My friend is particularly competent. 
Sad poetry he generally writes they are always re- 
proaching him for it in the papers." 

"What! " cried the widow, "do they put him in 
the papers? Then he must be quite as learned as 
M. Gue>in, the letter-writer ! " 
130 



Polar Violets 

" Far more learned. Apply to him, madam ; you 
will not repent it." 

The widow gave the poet the gist of the matter 
for the poetry on her husband's tomb, and agreed 
to pay him ten francs if she was pleased with it. 
Only, she must have it at once. The poet under- 
took to let her have it the very next day, through 
his friend. 

" Oh, Artemisia ! kind fairy," cried Rodolphe 
when the widow had departed ; " thou shalt be con- 
tented, I promise thee. I will yield thee good 
measure of funeral song, and the spelling shall be 
better turned out than a duchess. Ah ! good old 
creature, may Heaven reward thee ; mayest thou 
attain, like good brandy, to the hundred and seventh 
year of thine age ! " 

" I am opposed to that ! " Marcel cried. 

"True," said Rodolphe, "I was forgetting that 
you have one more hand to paint after her decease, 
and such longevity would keep you out of your 
money." And raising his hands, he added, "Heed 
not my prayer, O Heaven ! Ha, a fine bit of luck 
for me that I came here to-day ! " he added. 

" By-the-by, what did you want? " 

"I am just thinking it over now, especially as I 
shall be obliged to sit up all night over this poetry. 
I cannot do without the things I came to ask for, to 
wit : First, a dinner ; secondly, some tobacco and a 
candle ; thirdly, your polar bear costume." 

"Are you going to a fancy ball? The first one 
comes off to-night." 

"No, I am not; but, such as you see me, I am 
as hard-frozen as the Grande Arme'e on the Retreat 



The Latin Quarter 

from Moscow. My green lasting coat and check 
merino trousers are very pretty, of course ; but too 
spring-like altogether, and adapted to an equatorial 
climate. If you live so near the north pole as I do, 
a polar bear's costume is more suitable I may even 
say it is indispensable." 

"Take Bruin," said Marcel. "It is a good 
idea ; the thing is as hot as a brazier ; you will feel 
like a loaf in the oven." 

Rodolphe was already in the animal's pelt. 

" Now," he cried, " what a furious rage the ther- 
mometer will be in ! " 

"Are you going out like that?" Marcel asked 
when they had finished a vague sort of dinner 
served on hall-marked plates of the value of one 
sou. 

"By Jove! much I care what people say of me. 
Besides, to-day is the first day of Carnival." So 
he walked across Paris with a gravity befitting the 
original owner of the skin, and passing Chevalier's 
thermometer, saluted it with a derisive thumb to his 
nose. 

On entering his room (after giving the porter 
a terrible fright), the poet lighted his candle, taking 
a world of pains to surround it with a transparent 
paper screen to thwart the malice of the north wind, 
and set to work at once. But he was not long in 
finding out that if he was tolerably warm inside his 
costume, his hands were not. He had not written 
a couple of lines of epitaph before numbness 
attacked his fingers so savagely that he was forced 
to drop the pen. 

"The bravest man cannot fight against the ele- 
132 



Polar Violets 

merits," said Rodolphe, falling back paralysed in his 
chair. "Caesar passed the Rubicon, but he would 
have stuck fast in the Be"re"sina." 

All at once the poet raised a shout of joy from the 
depths of his bear-skin, and got up so suddenly that 
he sent a deluge of ink over his white fur. An idea 
had occurred to him. He took a hint from Chatter- 
ton. 

Drawing a considerable mass of manuscript from 
under the bed, he found among them some ten huge 
bundles of his famous tragedy, The Avenger. In the 
course of some two years' work upon it he had 
written, cancelled, and rewritten so many times that 
the copies altogether weighed more than fourteen 
pounds. Rodolphe put the latest version aside, and 
hauled the rest across to the fireplace. 

" I knew I should find an opening with patience," 
he cried. " Here is a pretty faggot of manuscript, 
and that's a fact. Ah ! if I could but have foreseen 
what was going to happen I would have written 
a prologue, and there would be so much the more 
to burn now. . . . But there, one cannot foresee 
everything." And he set several sheets alight in 
the grate and warmed his hands at the flames. In 
another five minutes the first act of The Avenger 
had gone off brilliantly and Rodolphe had written 
three lines of the epitaph. 

Nothing can describe the astonishment of the 
four winds when they discovered the blaze in the 
hearth. 

" Tis an illusion!" piped the north wind as he 
amused himself with ruffling up the white bear's 
fur. 



The Latin Quarter 

" Suppose we go and blow down the stove-pipe," 
suggested another wind, "that would set the 
chimney smoking." But just as they were be- 
ginning to pester poor Rodolphe the south wind 
caught sight of M. Arago at a window in the 
Observatory shaking a warning finger at the whole 
quartette of them. So the south wind cried to his 
brothers 

" Quick! let us be off at once, the weather 
prophet says there will be calm weather to-night ; 
we have broken the Observatory rules, and if we 
are not in by midnight M. Arago will have us 
kept in." 

Meantime the second act of The Avenger burned 
most successfully, and Rodolphe had written ten 
lines. But during the third act he only managed 
to finish two more. 

"I always thought that act was too short," he 
muttered, "but you never find out the defects till 
you see a thing on the stage. Luckily the next act 
will last longer ; there are twenty-three scenes, and 
one of them the throne-room scene was to witness 
my glory." The last piece of declamation from the 
throne-room scene whisked up the chimney in a 
flight of sparks, and Rodolphe had still another six 
lines to write. 

"Now for the fifth act," he said, as he warmed 
himself at the blaze. "It will last quite five 
minutes, it is one long soliloquy." Then came the 
catastrophe, a brief flare-up followed by darkness, 
while Rodolphe was setting forth the last words of 
the dear defunct with magical lyrical flourishes. 
"There is still enough left for another night's per- 



Polar Violets 

formance," he said to himself as he pushed the rest 
of his manuscript back under the bed. 

Next evening, at eight o'clock, Mile. Angele entered 
the ballroom carrying a superb bouquet of white 
violets, with two white roses in the middle. All 
through the evening the women admired her flowers 
and the men made pretty speeches to their wearer. 
So Angele was not altogether ungrateful to the 
cousin who contributed to give these little gratifica- 
tions to her vanity ; and perhaps she might have 
thought more of him if it had not been for the 
persevering gallantry of a relative of the bride. 
This was a young fellow with fair hair and a superb 
moustache that turned up at the ends in a couple of 
hooks, which always catch novices' hearts. So 
Angele danced several dances with him, and he 
asked her for the two white roses which still re- 
mained in the middle of her much-fingered bouquet 
. . . and Angele refused, but at the end of the even- 
ing she left the roses on a bench and forgot to take 
them, and the fair-haired young man rushed across 
to pick them up. 

At that very moment there were fourteen degrees 
of frost in the belvedere, and Rodolphe, leaning 
against the window-bars, was looking towards the 
Barriere du Maine to see the lighted windows of 
the ballroom where Angele danced cousin Angele 
who could not endure him. 



X 

THE CAPE OF STORMS 

IN the month which opens each new season of 
the year there are two terrible epochs, which 
usually fall upon the first and the fifteenth day. 
Rodolphe, who never could behold the approach 
of either of these dates without misgivings, called 
them "The Cape of Storms." When that day 
comes, it is not the dawn that flings open the 
portals of the east, but a host of creditors, duns, 
landlords, bailiffs' men and other persons ac- 
quainted with the art of serving writs. That day 
begins with a downpour of accounts, invoices, 
receipts and stamped paper of all kinds and ends 
with a hail shower of protested bills. Dies ircz ! 

It so fell out that on the morning of the i5th of 
April Rodolphe was sleeping quite peacefully, and 
dreaming that an uncle had left him a province in 
Peru, with all the fair Peruvians in it, when just 
as he was swimming at large in an imaginary 
Pactolus the sound of a key turning in the lock 
disturbed the heir-presumptive at the most brilliant 
moment in the whole golden dream. 

Rodolphe sat bolt upright in bed, his eyes (and 
wits) still befogged with slumber, and, staring about 
him, became aware that somebody was in the room. 
136 



The Cape of Storms 

A man was standing there in the middle of the 
floor. What sort of man might he be? 

The early riser in question wore a cocked hat ; 
he had a wallet on his back and a big portfolio in 
his hand ; his coat was a sort of uniform of greyish 
violet ; and finally he appeared to be much out of 
breath after a climb of five flights. He was, how- 
ever, a person of very affable demeanour, though 
his sonorous footsteps gave you the impression 
that a money-changer's counter might produce, if it 
could find means of locomotion. 

For a moment Rodolphe was alarmed. At sight 
of the cocked hat he fancied he had to do with a 
member of the police force, but the passably well- 
stuffed wallet put an end to his mistake. 

" Ha ! I have it," thought he. ''Here comes a 
first instalment of my legacy ; the man has come 
from the Indies ! But how is it that he is not a 
negro? " 

Beckoning to the visitor, he said, pointing to the 
bag, "I know what that is; put it down there, 
please." 

The man, a messenger from the Bank of France, 
responded to the invitation by submitting a piece 
of paper, covered with hieroglyphics and figures in 
many-coloured inks, to Rodolphe's inspection. 

"Do you want a receipt?" asked Rodolphe. 
"Right. Hand me the pen and ink off the table, 
there." 

"No; I have come to take something of you," 
said the collector. "This is a bill for a hundred 
and fifty francs. To-day is the fifteenth of April." 

"Oh!" returned Rodolphe, taking a closer look 
137 



The Latin Quarter 

at the bill. "Bill of Birmann's. That's my tailor. 
Alas ! " he added in a melancholy voice, looking 
from an overcoat on the bed to the bill, and back 
again at the overcoat, "causes go, but the effects 
come back again. What ! is to-day the fifteenth of 
April ? An extraordinary thing ; I have not had 
any strawberries yet ! " 

The collector grew tired of this dawdling, and 
went, saying as he did so 

"You have till four o'clock." 

" Honest folk are not bound to an hour," retorted 
Rodolphe. "The swindler!" he added, as he 
watched the departure of the man of finance in 
the cocked hat. " He is walking off with the 
bag ! " 

Rodolphe drew his bed-curtains, and tried to find 
the way back to his inheritance ; but he missed the 
path, and somehow or other entered, swelling with 
pride, upon a dream in which the manager of the 
Theatre Frangais came to him, hat in hand, to ask for 
a tragedy for his theatre. And Rodolphe, knowing 
the way to set to work, was asking for a premium, 
when, just as the manager seemed ready to give 
way, the sleeper was again partly awakened by a 
visitor another creature of the i$th of April. 

This was M. Benoit, inappropriately so named, 
the landlord of the lodging-house. M. Benoit com- 
bined the three several occupations of landlord, 
bootmaker and moneylender to his lodgers ; and 
this morning he was hideously redolent of bad 
brandy and pay-day. In his hand was an empty 
bag. 

"Confound it!" thought Rodolphe. "It is not 
138 



The Cape of Storms 

the manager of the * Fractals,' . . . for he would 
wear a white tie ... and the bag would be full." 

4 'Good day, M. Rodolphe," said M. Benoit, 
coming to the bedside. 

" M. Benoit ! Good day. To what do I owe the 
pleasure of your visit? " 

" Why, I came in to say that to-day is the fifteenth 
of April ! " 

" Already ! How quickly time goes ! It is extra- 
ordinary. I positively must get a pair of nankeen 
trousers. The fifteenth of April. Dear me ! I 
should not have thought of it but for you, 
M. Benoit. I owe you a debt of gratitude." 

" You owe me a hundred and sixty-two francs as 
well!" M. Benoit continued; " and it is time the 
little account was settled." 

"I am not exactly pressed, M. Benoit; there is 
no need to put yourself out. I will let you have 
time. Little accounts grow into big ones." 

" But you have put me off already several times." 

"In that case let us settle it, M. Benoit; let us 
settle it. It is a matter of absolute indifference to 
me to-day or to-morrow. And besides, we are all 
of us mortal. Let us settle it." 

A beaming smile lighted up the landlord's wrinkles, 
and everything about him, down to his empty bag, 
swelled visibly with hope. 

" What do I owe you? " asked Rodolphe. 

"Three months' rent, in the first place, at twenty- 
five francs ; that is seventy-five francs." 

" Errors and omissions excepted. What next? " 

" Next : three pairs of boots at twenty francs." 

"One moment, M. Benoit, one moment; let us 
139 



The Latin Quarter 

keep clear of muddles. I have nothing to do with 
the landlord now ; this is the bootmaker. I want a 
separate account. Figures are serious things ; we 
must not get confused." 

"So be it," returned M. Benoit, softened by the 
hope of putting a receipt at the foot of every bill. 
" Here is a separate memorandum for the boots. 
Three pairs of boots at twenty francs makes sixty 
francs." 

Rodolphe looked pityingly at the down-trodden 
pair on the floor. 

"Alack!" he thought; "if the Wandering Jew 
had had them in wear, they could not well look 
worse. And yet, it was running about after Marie 
that brought them to this. Go on, M. Benoit." 

' ' Say sixty francs, " resumed the landlord. ' * Next : 
money advanced, twenty-seven francs." 

"Hold on, M. Benoit. We agreed that every 
saint should have his own shrine. It was as a 
friend that you lent me the money. So now, if you 
please, we will leave the domain of boots and enter 
upon the domains of confidence and friendship, 
which require a separate account. How much does 
your friendship for me amount to ? " 

" Twenty-seven francs ? " 

' * Twenty-seven francs. You have a friend at a 
cheap rate, M. Benoit. So, finally, let us say 
seventy-five, sixty and twenty-seven how much 
is that?" 

" One hundred and sixty-two francs." 

"A hundred and sixty-two francs," said Rodolphe ; 
"'tis an extraordinary thing. What a fine thing 
addition is ! Well, M. Benoit, now the accounts are 
140 



'he Cape of Storms 

settled, we can both of us be easy ; we know where 
we are. Next month I will ask for your receipt ; 
and as in the meantime your confidence in me and 
your friendship can only grow, you may, if neces- 
sary, grant me a further delay. And if the land- 
lord and the bootmaker should prove too urgent, 
I will entreat the friend to bring them to reason. 
It is an extraordinary thing, M. Benoit ; but every 
time I think of your triple character I feel tempted 
to believe in the Trinity." 

As the master of the house listened to Rodolphe 
he turned red, green, yellow and white ; the rain- 
bow tints of wrath deepening more and more in his 
countenance at each new gibe from his lodger. 

" I do not care to be made game of, sir ! I have 
waited long enough. I give you notice, and if you 
have not paid the money by to-night, I shall see 
what I shall do." 

" Money! money! am I asking you for money? 
And what is more, I would not give you any if I 
had it. On a Friday it is unlucky." 

M. Benoit's wrath grew to a tempest. If the 
furniture had not belonged to him, he would 
assuredly have fractured the legs of some of the 
chairs. As it was, he went out breathing threats. 

"You are forgetting your bag," Rodolphe called 
after him. 

" What a life!" muttered the wretched young man 
when he was alone. " I would rather tame lions." 

"Still," he went on, as he jumped out of bed, 
"I cannot stay here. The invasion of the allies 
will continue. I must retreat ; I must also break- 
fast. Stay, now ; suppose I go to see Schaunard ? 
141 



The Latin Quarter 

I will ask him to lay a knife and fork for me, and 
borrow a few sous of him. A hundred francs might 
do. Let us go to see Schaunard." 

On his way downstairs Rodolphe met his landlord. 
M. Benoit had met with repulses from other lodgers, 
as his empty bag, that object of art, plainly showed. 

" If anyone asks for me, tell them I am away in 
the country, or gone to the Alps," said Rodolphe. 
" Or no, say that I have gone for good." 

" I shall tell them the truth," muttered M. Benoit, 
laying a highly significant stress on the words.. 

Schaunard lived at Montmartre. There was the 
whole breadth of Paris to cross, a pilgrimage of the 
most dangerous kind for Rodolphe. 

"The streets are paved with duns to-day," said 
he to himself. 

Still, he did not go by the outer ring of boule- 
vards, as he had at first a mind to do. A fantastic 
hope, on the contrary, encouraged him to take the 
dangerous central route through the heart of Paris. 
It seemed to him that on such a day when millions 
of francs were walking abroad in collectors' wallets, 
it might well be that some banknote for a thousand 
francs was lying deserted by the wayside awaiting a 
good Samaritan. Rodolphe went about softly, his 
eyes on the ground. But he only picked up a couple 
of pins. 

In two hours' time he reached Schaunard's lodging. 

"Ha! it is you! " 

" Yes, I have come to ask you for lunch." 

"Oh, my dear fellow, you come inopportunely; 
my mistress has just come, and I have not seen 
her for a fortnight. If you had only looked in ten 

minutes earlier " 

142 



The Cape of Storms 

" You have not a hundred francs or so to lend 
me, have you ? " 

4 'What! You too!" returned Schaunard, as- 
tonished beyond all measure. " Are yo u asking* me 
for money? Are you in league with my enemies? " 

" I will pay you back on Monday." 

"Or at Trinity. My dear fellow, you surely 
forget what day it is. I can do nothing for you. 
But there is no need to despair, the day is not over 
yet. You may still come across Providence, who 
never gets up before noon." 

"Oh, Providence is too busy looking after the 
sparrows. I shall go to Marcel." 

At that time Marcel was living in the Rue de 
Bre"da. Rodolphe found him much depressed, 
meditating before his great picture, which was in- 
tended to represent "The Passage of the Red Sea." 

"What is the matter?" asked Rodolphe, as he 
came in, "you look half dead with mortification! " 

"Alas! yes. It is a fortnight since I entered 
upon Holy Week," said the painter an allegorical 
allusion which, for Rodolphe, was clear as spring 
water. 

" Pickled herrings and radishes ! " said he. 
"Very good. I remember." And, indeed, re- 
collections of a time when he himself had been 
reduced to a diet composed exclusively of that fish 
were still salt in Rodolphe's memory. 

" The devil ! this is serious ! I came to borrow a 
hundred francs of you." 

"A hundred francs!" exclaimed Marcel. "So 
you go in for the fantastic as usual. To come and 
ask me for this fabulous sum at a time when every- 
143 



The Latin Quarter 

body touches the equator of necessity ! You have 
been taking haschish." 

"Alas! I have taken nothing whatever," said 
Rodolphe ; and with that he left his friend on the 
shores of the Red Sea. 

Between twelve and four that afternoon Rodolphe 
made the tour of all the houses of his acquaint- 
ance ; he beat up the forty-eight quarters, and 
walked about twenty miles without any result what- 
soever. The influences of the i5th of April made 
themselves everywhere felt with the same rigour ; 
what was more, the hour of dinner was drawing 
near, and it hardly seemed as if dinner were draw- 
ing any nearer with the hour, and Rodolphe felt as 
though he were starving on the raft of the Medusa. 

But as he crossed the Pont Neuf an idea suddenly 
struck him, and he turned back. 

"Oho! The fifteenth of April! the fifteenth of 
April ! Why, I have an invitation to dinner for to- 
day." Fumbling in his pocket, he drew out a 
printed handbill thus conceived : 

BARRIERE DE LA VILLETE. 
AT THE SIGN OF THE "GREAT CONQUEROR." 

GREAT HALL TO SEAT 300 PEOPLE. 



ANNIVERSARY BANQUET 

IN HONOUR OF THE BIRTH 

OF THE 

HUMANITARIAN MESSIAH 
APRIL ISTH, 184-. 



ADMIT ONE PERSON. 

N.B. THE BEARER is ENTITLED TO ONE HALF-BOTTLE 
OF WINE ONLY. 

144 



The Cape of Storms 

" I do not share the opinions of the Messiah's 
disciples," said Rodolphe to himself, "but I will 
very readily share their meal." With bird-like 
speed he covered the distance which separated him 
from the barrier, and on reaching the hall of the 
"Great Conqueror" found an enormous crowd. Five 
hundred persons were already assembled in the hall, 
which would seat three hundred. And a vast per- 
spective of veal and carrots unrolled itself before 
Rodolphe's eyes. 

At length they began to serve the soup. But just 
as the guests were raising the first spoonful to their 
mouths in walked five or six individuals in black 
coats and a number of policemen with a commissary 
at their head. 

" Gentlemen," said this functionary, " the authori- 
ties will not allow the banquet to take place. I call 
upon you all to withdraw ! " 

"Alas! " said Rodolphe, as he went out with the 
crowd, "alas for the fatality which has overturned 
my soup." 

Sadly he went back home again, and reached his 
own door about eleven o'clock. M. Benoit was 
waiting for him. 

"Oh! it is you," said he. "Have you thought 
over what I said this morning? Have you some 
money for me ? " 

"I ought by rights to have some to-night. I 
will let you have it in the morning," returned 
Rodolphe, searching for his key and candlestick, 
and finding neither. 

"I am very sorry, M. Rodolphe, but I have let 
your room, and I have not another at liberty ! You 
must look elsewhere." 

L i4S 



The Latin Quarter 

Rodolphe was not pusillanimous by nature, a 
night out of doors had no terrors for him. Besides, 
if it should come on to rain, he could sleep at a 
pinch in the stage box at the Ode"on, as he had 
already done once before. So he only asked M. 
Benoit for his "things," the said "things" consist- 
ing of a mass of papers. 

"That is only fair," returned the landlord. "I 
have no right to keep them ; they are in the desk. 
Step upstairs with me ; if the person who has taken 
your room has not gone to bed, we may be able to 
get in." 

The room had been let during the day to a young 
girl named Mimi, with whom Rodolphe had once 
begun a sentimental duet. They recognised each 
other at once. Rodolphe whispered something in 
Mimi's ear, and gently pressed her hand. 

" Look how it rains ! " he said. There was a sound 
of a downpour without a storm had just burst. 

Mile. Mimi went straight up to M. Benoit as he 
waited in a corner of the room. 

" Monsieur," she said, " this gentleman (indicating 
Rodolphe) was the visitor I was expecting this even- 
ing. I am not at home to anyone." 

" Oh ! very well," said M. Benoit, with a grimace. 

Midnight struck while Mile. Mimi was hastily pre- 
paring an improvised supper. 

"Ah!" said Rodolphe to himself, "the fifteenth 
of April is over ; at last I have doubled the Cape of 
Storms. Dear Mimi," the young man added, draw- 
ing her to his arms and putting a kiss on the back 
of her neck, "you could not possibly have put me 
out at the door. You have the bump of hospitality." 
146 



XI 

A CAFE IN BOHEMIA 

THESE are the circumstances under which 
Carolus Barbemuche, literary man and Pla- 
tonic philosopher, became a member of Bohemia 
in the twenty-fourth year of his age. 

In those days Gustave Colline, the great philo- 
sopher ; Marcel, the great painter ; Schaunard, the 
great musician ; and Rodolphe, the great poet (for 
so they styled each other among themselves), used 
to be regular frequenters of the Cafe Momus. 
Other people nicknamed them "The Four Mus- 
keteers," because they were always seen together ; 
and, indeed, they came together, went together, 
played cards together, and at times declined to 
pay their score, all with an accord worthy of an 
orchestra at the Conservatoire. 

They had selected for a meeting-place a room 
amply large enough for forty people to sit in with 
comfort, but they always had it to themselves 
because in the long run they succeeded in making 
it impossible for any regular customers to set foot 
in it. Any chance comer venturing into the den 
fell a victim to the grim quartette, and most of 
them promptly fled, leaving newspaper and coffee 
alike unfinished, for their unheard-of aphorisms on 
J47 



The Latin Quarter 

art, sentiment and political economy were enough 
to turn the cream. The conversation of the four 
worthies was of such a nature that the waiter who 
took their orders had become an idiot in the flower 
of his age. 

Things, however, got to such a pitch at last 
that the proprietor lost patience and came up one 
evening to make a categorical statement of his 
grievances. 

Imprimis. M. Rodolphe had come in at lunch 
time and carried all the newspapers off to " his " 
room, pushing unreasonableness to such lengths 
that he was angry unless he found the wrappers 
intact. Whence it followed that other regular 
customers, deprived of the organs of opinion, 
remained until dinner - time ignorant as carp of 
political news, and the Bosquet circle scarcely knew 
the names of the members of the last Cabinet. 

M. Rodolphe had even compelled the cafe to take 
the Castor, which he edited himself. The pro- 
prietor had refused at first, but as M. Rodolphe 
and his company used to summon the waiter every 
quarter of an hour, calling out: "The Castor! bring 
us the Castor!" the curiosity of other customers 
was roused by these frenzied demands, and they 
too asked for the Castor. So the cafe" took in a 
copy of the Castor, a monthly journal devoted to 
the hat trade, with a vignette and an article on 
philosophy under the heading of " Varieties," by 
Gustave Colline. 

Item. The said M. Colline and his friend M. 
Rodolphe, seeking relaxation from intellectual 
labours, were in the habit of playing backgammon 
148 



A Cafe in Bohemia 

from ten o'clock in the morning till twelve o'clock 
at night ; and as the establishment only possessed 
a single backgammon board, other persons finding 
that these gentlemen had forestalled them, were 
balked in their passion for the game. Every time 
that the board was asked for the aforesaid gentle- 
men only replied, "Backgammon is in hand! Call 
again to-morrow." And the Bosquet circle was 
thereby reduced to piquet and relating the story of 
their first loves. 

Item. M. Marcel, disregarding the fact that a 
cafe* is a place of public resort, had taken it upon 
himself to bring his easel and paint-box and all 
the instruments of his art. He even pushed the 
nuisance so far as to bring in models of both sexes, 
which might offend the Bosquet circle's sense of 
propriety. 

Item. M. Schaunard, following his friend's ex- 
ample, talked of moving in his piano, and was not 
afraid to sing in chorus a selection from his sym- 
phony, "The Influence of Blue on the Arts." 
M. Schaunard had gone farther. He slipped a 
transparency into the lamp before the door of the 
cafe", on which might be read: "Vocal and Instru- 
mental Music. Free lessons to be had within by 
ladies and gentlemen ; for particulars apply at the 
bar." 

Wherefore the said bar was filled every night by 
carelessly dressed persons who came in to ask " how 
to get the lessons." What is more, M. Schaunard 
made appointments here with a lady of the name 
of Phe"mie Teinturiere, who always forgot to wear 
anything on her head. For which reason M. 
149 



The Latin Quarter 

Bosquet, junior, declared that he would never again 
set foot inside an establishment where all the laws 
of nature were thus set at defiance. 

Item. Not content with ordering only a very 
moderate amount of refreshment, the gentlemen 
had tried to reduce it further still, by bringing in 
a spirit lamp and concocting their coffee themselves, 
on the pretext of an adulterous connection detected 
between chicory and the coffee of the establish- 
ment, and by sweetening the beverage with sugar 
obtained elsewhere at a low price an insult to the 
laboratory. 

Item. Corrupted by the discourse of the afore- 
said gentlemen, the waiter Bergami (so called 
because of his whiskers), forgetful of his humble 
origin, and regardless of all decency, had ventured 
to address a copy of verses to the lady behind the 
counter, inciting her to forget her duties as a wife 
and mother. From the licence of his style it is 
evident that this piece was composed under the 
pernicious influences of M. Rodolphe and his 
writings. 

The proprietor of the establishment consequently 
felt, with regret, that he was compelled to request 
M. Colline and friends to find some other spot for 
the discussion of their subversive doctrines. 

Gustave Colline, the Cicero of the company, took 
it upon himself to reply, and a priori showed the 
proprietor of the cafe that his complaints were 
absurd and unfounded, that they did him great 
honour by choosing the establishment for an in- 
tellectual centre, and that the departure of himself 
and his friends would be the ruin of a place thus 
150 



A Cafe in Bohemia 

elevated by their presence to the dignity of an 
artistic and literary caf. 

" But you order so little, you and those that come 
to see you," objected the proprietor. 

4 'The sobriety of which you complain tells in 
favour of our morals," retorted Colline. " Besides, 
it is entirely your doing that we do not spend a 
great deal more. You have only to open an 
account." 

" And we would keep it," added Marcel. 

The proprietor did not seem to understand. He 
went on to ask for some explanation of the flaming 
love-letter addressed to his wife by Bergami. 
Rodolphe, accused of acting as secretary to this 
illicit passion, vehemently protested his innocence. 
"Besides," added he, " madame's virtue was a 
secure barrier, which " 

" Oh ! " said the proprietor, with a smile of pride, 
" my wife was brought up at Saint Denis." 

Briefly, Colline contrived to bind the man fast in 
the toils of his insidious eloquence, and all was 
arranged on the following conditions : The four 
friends engaged never again to make coffee for 
themselves ; the establishment was to receive a 
copy of the Castor gratis ; Phdmie Teinturiere 
was not to come again bareheaded ; the Bosquet 
circle were to have the use of the backgammon 
board every Sunday from twelve to two o'clock in 
the afternoon ; and last, but by no means least, 
there were to be no new applications for credit. 

For some days all went well. 

Then, on Christmas Eve, the four friends arrived 
at the cafe with three ladies. 



The Latin Quarter 

There were Mile. Musette, Mile. Mimi (Rodolphe's 
new mistress, an adorable creature with a voice like 
the clash of cymbals), and Phdmie Teinturiere 
(Schaunard's idol), who that evening wore a cap. 
As for Mile. Colline, nobody ever saw her ; she 
always stayed at home, and was busy punctuating 
the manuscripts of the four gentlemen. After 
coffee, with an escort of liqueurs in honour of 
the occasion, they called for punch, and the waiter 
was so little accustomed to these grand doings that 
the order had to be repeated twice. Phemie had 
never been treated in a cafe" before. The idea of 
drinking out of a glass with a stem to it appeared 
to send her into an ecstasy of delight. Marcel, 
suspicious of the origin of Musette's new bonnet, 
was quarrelling with her about it ; Mimi and 
Rodolphe, still in the honeymoon stage, were 
carrying on a curious conversation in articulate 
sounds ; while, as for Colline, he went from woman 
to woman with most gracious airs, gallantly string- 
ing together for their benefit all the elegant extracts 
culled from the collection of the Almanack des 
Muses. 

While this joyous company gave themselves up to 
mirth and laughter a stranger at a solitary table at 
the back was watching the lively scene before him 
with an odd expression on his face. 

Every evening for a fortnight, or thereabouts, he 
had come in and sat there in the same way. He 
alone of all the customers had been able to stand 
the terrific racket made by the Bohemians. His 
courage unshaken by the most atrocious jokes, he 
stayed there all the evening through, puffing with 
152 



A Cafe in Bohemia 

mathematical regularity at his pipe, his eyes intent 
as if he were guarding a treasure, his ears open to 
all that was going on about him. In other respects 
he appeared to be of mild manner and easy fortune, 
for he possessed a watch, retained in bondage by a 
gold chain ; and one day Marcel had detected him 
in the act of changing a gold piece at the counter. 
From that hour he was known among the four 
friends as " the capitalist." 

All at once Schaunard, whose sight was excellent, 
noticed that the glasses were empty. 

"By Jove," said Rodolphe, "it's Christmas Eve! 
We are all good Christians ; we ought to do some- 
thing out of the common." 

"On my word, we ought. Let us ask for some- 
thing superhuman," said Marcel. 

"Colline, just give the bell a pull," added 
Rodolphe. 

Colline pulled frantically at the bell. 

" What are we going to have? " asked Marcel. 

Colline bent himself up like a bow, and said, 
glancing at the women 

" It is for the ladies to settle the nature and order 
of the refreshments." 

"/should not be afraid of some champagne," 
announced Musette, smacking her lips. 

"Are you mad?" exclaimed Marcel. "Cham- 
pagne is not a wine at all to begin with ! " 

" So much the worse. I like it ; it pops ! " 

"I like Beaune better, in a little basket," said 
Mimi, looking languidly at Rodolphe. 

" Are you going out of your senses? " 

" No ; but I should like to," said Mimi, on whom 
iS3 



The Latin Quarter 

Beaune produced a peculiar effect ; and Rodolphe 
was struck dumb at her words. 

1 1 As for me, "cried Phemie Teinturiere, bouncing up 
and down on the sofa springs, " I should very much 
like some parfait amour; it is good for the digestion." 
Upon which Schaunard made some remarks with a 
nasal intonation which made Phemieshakeinhershoes. 

"Aha!" said Marcel, "let us spend a hundred 
thousand francs, just for once." 

"And besides," added Rodolphe, "they are 
grumbling in the bar because we do not take 
enough. We must plunge them into amazement." 

"Yes," said Colline, "let us indulge in a gor- 
geous banquet. Beside, we owe these ladies a 
passive obedience. Love lives by devotion, wine is 
the juice of pleasure, pleasure is the duty of youth. 
Women are flowers, and ought to be watered. Let 
us water them. Waiter ! Waiter ! " 

Colline hung upon the bell-pull, jerking it 
feverishly, and the waiter came hurrying in with 
the speed of the wind. 

But when he heard talk of champagne and 
Beaune, and all sorts of liqueurs, every shade of 
surprise crossed over his countenance. 

"There is a hole in my inside," remarked Mimi ; 
" I should be glad of some ham." 

" I should like sardines and butter," said Musette. 

"And I some radishes," added Phemie, "and a 
bit of meat with them." 

"Say at once that you mean to have supper," 
said Marcel. 

"That would do well enough for us," said the 
women. 

154 



A Cafe in Bohemia 

" Waiter, bring up supper," said Colline gravely; 
and the waiter turned red, white and blue with 
astonishment. He went slowly down to the bar, 
and informed the proprietor of the extraordinary 
orders which he had been given. The proprietor 
at first took it for a joke, but when the bell rang 
again he went upstairs himself and spoke to Colline, 
for whom he entertained a certain respect. Colline 
explained that they wished to keep the festival at 
his establishment, and asked him to be good enough 
to attend to their orders. 

The proprietor turned off on his heel without a 
word, tying knots in his table napkin as he went. 
For a quarter of an hour he took counsel of his 
wife, and that lady, who, thanks to a liberal educa- 
tion at Saint Denis, had a weakness for art and 
letters, persuaded her husband to send up the 
supper. 

"After all, they very likely may have money for 
once," he said, and telling the waiter to take up all 
that was ordered, he became absorbed in a game of 
piquet with an old customer. A fatal piece of im- 
prudence. 

From ten o'clock till midnight the waiter did 
nothing but go up and downstairs. Extras were 
called for every minute. Musette must be served 
in the English style, with a clean knife and fork 
for every mouthful ; Mimi drank every kind of wine 
from every glass ; Schaunard seemed to have a 
Sahara which nothing could slake in his throat ; 
Colline was executing a cross fire with his eyes, 
and biting holes in his serviette while he squeezed 
the table leg, which he mistook for Phdmie's knee. 



The Latin Quarter 

But as for Marcel and Rodolphe, they kept a tight 
hand over themselves, and saw, not without un- 
easiness, that the hour of reckoning was at hand. 

The stranger sat watching this scene with a grave 
curiosity. From time to time his mouth was seen 
to unclose as if for a smile ; and a noise was heard 
like the creak of a window-sash suddenly drawn 
down. It was the stranger laughing to himself. 

At a quarter to twelve the lady behind the counter 
sent in the bill. It reached phenomenal propor- 
tions ; it amounted to twenty-five francs seventy-five 
centimes. 

"Let us see," said Marcel; "we will draw lots 
as to who shall go and parley with the proprietor. 
This is going to be serious." 

They took the box of dominoes and drew for the 
highest number, and as ill fortune would have it, 
Schaunard was marked out as plenipotentiary. 
Schaunard was an excellent amateur, but a wretched 
diplomatist, and he arrived in the bar just as the 
proprietor had lost his game. Momus, writhing 
under the disgrace of three capotes, was in a 
murderous mood, and at Schaunard's very first 
entrance upon the subject flew into violent passion. 
Schaunard was a good musician, but his temper 
was deplorable ; he replied with double-barrelled 
insults. The quarrel was embittered. The pro- 
prietor went upstairs to intimate that nobody should 
leave the house till the bill was paid. Colline tried 
to intervene with dispassionate eloquence, but just 
then the proprietor chanced to perceive the table 
napkin which Colline had torn into lint, and with 
redoubled fury he even went so far as to lay a pro- 
156 



A Cafe in Bohemia 

fane hand on the philosopher's nut-brown overcoat 
and the ladies' pelisses, threatening at the same time 
to hold them in pledge. 

A platoon fire of insults ensued between the 
Bohemians and the master of the house, whilst the 
ladies talked of love affairs and dresses. 

This roused the stranger from his impassive de- 
meanour ; he had gradually risen, made first one 
step in their direction and then another, walking 
like a natural person ; and coming up to the pro- 
prietor, he took him aside and spoke for a moment 
in a low voice. Rodolphe and Marcel followed this 
with their eyes. The proprietor finally went out, 
saying, " Certainly, M. Barbemuche, certainly; I 
have no objection. Arrange it with them." 

M. Barbemuche went back to his table for his hat, 
put it on his head, wheeled to the right, and made 
three steps of it to the spot where Rodolphe and 
Marcel were standing. Then he took off his hat 
and bowed to the men, saluted the ladies, pulled 
out a pocket-handkerchief, blew his nose and began 
slowly 

11 1 beg your pardon, gentlemen, for the indis- 
cretion which I am about to commit. I have been 
burning to make your acquaintance this long while 
past, but until now I have not met with a favour- 
able moment for introducing myself. Will you 
permit me to seize the opportunity which to-day 
presents itself?" 

"Certainly, certainly!" said Colline, perceiving 
the stranger's drift ; and Rodolphe and Marcel 
bowed in silence, when all was very nearly lost 
through Schaunard's exquisite delicacy of feeling. 
157 



The Latin Quarter 

"Allow me, monsieur!" he said, with some 
asperity; " you have not the honour of knowing 
us, and it would not do for us to er oh, would 
you be so kind as to let me fill my pipe? And 
whatever my friends may say I say too." 

" Gentlemen," said Barbemuche, " I, like you, am 
a disciple of the arts. So far as I can tell from 
what I have heard of your talk, our tastes are the 
same. I have the keenest desire to be numbered 
among" your friends, and to be able to meet you 
here of an evening. The proprietor of this estab- 
lishment is a brute, but I have had a word or two 
with him, and you are now at liberty to withdraw. 
I venture to hope that some way of meeting you 
here on these premises may be left open to me ; if 
you accept the little service which " 

The red of indignation mounted to Schaunard's 
countenance. 

4 'He is speculating upon our position," he said, 
"and there is nothing for it but to accept. He has 
paid our bill. I will play him at billiards for the 
twenty-five francs, and give him odds." 

Barbemuche accepted this proposal and had the 
sense to lose ; and this fine trait in his character 
won him the esteem of Bohemia. 

They separated after arranging to meet again 
next day. 

"By doing so," Schaunard remarked to Marcel, 
" we owe him nothing ; our dignity is safe." 

"We can almost require another supper," added 
Colline. 



158 



XII 

A RECEPTION IN BOHEMIA 

ON the evening that he paid out of his own 
pocket the cost of the supper consumed at the 
cafe by the Bohemians, Carolus contrived to leave 
in the company of Gustave Colline. Since he had 
assisted at the reunions of the four friends in the 
estaminet where he had pulled them out of their 
scrape, Carolus had specially taken note of Colline, 
and was beginning to feel a great affinity for this 
Socrates, of whom later he was to become the 
Plato. For this reason it was that from the first 
he had decided to choose him as his introducer into 
their circle. 

On their way Barbemuche asked Colline if he 
would go in and take something in a cafe which was 
still open. Colline not only declined, but consider- 
ably quickened his pace as he passed the place, and 
carefully drew his superlatively imposing felt hat 
low down over his eyes. 

"Why won't you go in?" asked Barbemuche 
with polite insistence. 

" I have my reasons," replied Colline. " In that 

establishment the lady at the desk gives a good deal 

of attention to the exact sciences, and I do not care 

just now to enter upon a long discussion with her. 

i59 



The Latin Quarter 

Indeed, I make a practice of avoiding it by never 
going through this street at midday, or, for that 
matter, at any other hour when the sun is shining. 
Oh! it is very simple," ingenuously added Colline. 
" I have lived in this neighbourhood with Marcel." 

"I should, nevertheless, have liked to offer you 
a glass of punch, and had a little chat with you. 
Don't you know some other place hereabouts where 
you could go in without being troubled by these 
mathematical difficulties?" added Barbemuche, 
who wished to be tremendously lively. 

Colline considered for an instant. 

" Here," he said, indicating a little wine shop 
close at hand, "is a small establishment where I 
am on a better footing." 

Barbemuche made a grimace, and seemed to 
hesitate. " Is it a decent place?" he inquired. 

From his glacial reserved air, his fine tones, his 
discreet smile, and, above all, his chain with its little 
dangling charms, and his watch, Colline imagined 
that Barbemuche was in the service of some em- 
bassy, and thought he was afraid of compromis- 
ing himself by entering a cabaret. "There is no 
fear of our being seen," he said ; "at this hour all 
the diplomatic body is in bed." Barbemuche decided 
to go in ; but at the bottom of his heart he would 
have been glad to have had on a false nose. By 
way of precaution he asked for a private room, 
and carefully fastened a table napkin across the 
panes of the glass door. This done, he grew more 
at ease, and ordered a bowl of punch. A little 
elevated by the heat of the liquor, Barbemuche 
grew communicative, and after having given some 
160 



A Reception in Bohemia 

details about himself, he ventured to express the hope 
he entertained of becoming a member formally and 
officially of the Society of Bohemians, and solicited 
the support of Colline to assist him in this ambitious 
design. 

Colline replied that for his part he placed himself 
entirely at the disposal of Barbemuche, but for more 
than that he could not speak certainly and absolutely. 

"I promise you my voice," he said, "but I can- 
not take upon myself to dispose of the voices of my 
comrades." 

"But," said Barbemuche, "upon what grounds 
could they refuse to admit me ? " 

Colline put down upon the table the glass he was 
carrying to his lips, and with a very serious air 
addressed the ambitious Carolus much to this 
effect 

" You cultivate the fine arts? " he asked. 

" I labour modestly in those noble fields of intelli- 
gence," replied Carolus, who affected to be a stylist. 

Colline found the phrase well chosen, and he 
bowed. 

"You know music ? " he said. 

" I play the double-bass." 

" It is a philosophical instrument. It gives forth 
grave sounds. Then, if you understand music, you 
know that one cannot, without disturbing the laws 
of harmony, introduce a fifth executant into a 
quartette without that ceasing to be a quartette. 

" It would become a quintette," said Carolus. 

"Eh?" said Colline. 

"Quintette." 

"Quite so. The same as if to the Trinity, the 
M 161 



The Latin Quarter 

divine triangle, you added another person. It would 
no longer be the Trinity, it would be four a square 
and there you have a religion faulty in principle." 

" Pardon me," said Carolus, whose reasoning 
faculties began to stumble among the roots of 
Colline's logic. " I do not quite see 

"Look, and follow me," continued Colline. "Do 
you understand astronomy ? " 

" A little. I am bachelor " 

"There's a song about that," put in Colline, 
1 Bachelier de Lisette.' I don't remember the tune, 
but in that case you will know that there are four 
cardinal points. Very good. If a fifth cardinal point 
should obtrude, the whole harmony of nature would 
be overthrown. That is what is called a cataclysm. 
You comprehend ? " 

" I wait the conclusion." 

"In effect, the conclusion of the discourse; as 
death is the termination of life and marriage 
that of love. Very well, my dear sir, my friends 
and I are accustomed to live together, and we 
are afraid of seeing by the introduction of another 
the disturbance of the concord which reigns in our 
manners, opinions, tastes and characters. We look 
one day, I tell you frankly, to be the four cardinal 
points of contemporary art. It would be annoying 
to us to see a fifth cardinal point 

"When one is four, however," hazarded Carolus, 
" one may just as well be five." 

" Yes, but one is no longer four." 

"That is a futile pretext." 

"There is nothing futile in the world; all is in 
all. The little streams make the great rivers ; the 
162 



A Reception in Bohemia 

little syllables form the great Alexandrines ; and 
the mountains are composed of grains of dust. It 
is in the Wisdom of Nations. There is a copy 
of it on the quay." 

"You think, then, that these gentlemen will raise 
objection to my admission to the honour of their 
intimate company ? " 

"So I infer, like the bear," said Colline, who 
never neglected this pleasantry. 

" You said? " asked Carolus, astonished. 

" Pardon me ; it is a little gem of a jest," replied 
Colline. "Tell me, then, my dear sir, which is the 
path you most prefer in the noble fields of intellect?" 

"The great philosophers and the good classic 
authors are my models. Their study is my nourish- 
ment. Telemachus first inspired me with the passion 
which is devouring me." 

" Telemachus. He is a good deal upon the quay," 
said Colline. " I have just come upon him to-day, 
and I bought him for five sous, for it was a chance. 
However, I will forego it for your benefit. It is 
good work, and wU written, for the time." 

" Yes," continued Carolus, " the higher philosophy 
and pure, healthy literature ; those are my aspira- 
tions. In my opinion art is a religion." 

"Yes, yes, yes," said Colline; "there is also a 
song about that," and he hummed 

" 'Yes, art is a cult 

That believers must serve.' 

I think it is in Robert, le Diable" he added. 

" I observed, then, that art, being a solemn func- 
tion, writers ought constantly " 

"Pardon me, sir," interrupted Colline, who heard 
163 



The Latin Quarter 

a late hour striking, "it is to-morrow morn- 
ing, and I am afraid of causing anxiety to a 
very dear friend of mine. Besides," he murmured 
to himself, "I promised to be back. It is her 
day." 

"Indeed, it is late," said Carolus, "let us be 
going." 

" Do you live far? " inquired Colline. 

" 10, Rue Royale St. Honore." 

Colline had once had occasion to go to that house, 
and remembered it as a magnificent mansion. 

" I will mention you to these gentlemen," he said 
to Carolus as they parted, "and rest assured that 
I will use all my influence to render them favourable 
towards you. Ah, but let me give you a piece of 
advice." 

" Speak," said Carolus. 

"Be amiable and gallant to Mesdemoiselles 
Mimi, Musette and Phemie. These ladies exercise 
influence over my friends, and if you get on 
the right side of them you will obtain the more 
easily what you desire of Marcel, Schaunard and 
Rodolphe." 

" I will endeavour," said Carolus. 

Next day Colline dropped into the midst of the 
Bohemian brotherhood. It was the breakfast hour, 
and breakfast had come with the hour. The three 
families were seated at table devoting themselves to 
a feast of peppered artichokes. 

"Well I never!" said Colline, "there is good 
cheer here. That can't last long. I come," he 
added, "as ambassador from the generous mortal 
whom we met last night in the cafe." 
164 



A Reception in Bohemia 

" Has he sent to ask payment of the money he 
laid down for us ? " asked Marcel. 

"Oh!" said Mile. Mimi, "I should not have 
thought that of him ; he had such a pleasant way 
with him." 

" It has nothing to do with that," replied Colline. 
"This young man wishes to be one of us. He 
desires to take an active part in our society, and to 
share, of course, in its advantages." 

The three Bohemians lifted their heads and looked 
at each other. 

"Well, now," concluded Colline, "the discussion 
is an open one." 

"What is the social position of your prote"g6?" 
asked Rodolphe. 

"He is not my protege"," said Colline. "Last 
night, when I left you, you asked me to follow him ; 
he, on his part, invited me to accompany him. 
That was all right enough. I went with him. He 
showed me very pleasant attentions, and treated me 
to first-class drinks, but I maintained my inde- 
pendence." 

"Very good," said Schaunard. 

"Sketch us a few of the principal traits of his 
character," said Marcel. 

"Greatness of soul, austere manners, shrinking 
from entering wine shops, bachelor of letters, the 
soul of candour, plays the double-bass, a nature 
that can sometimes change a five-franc piece." 

"Very good," said Schaunard. "What are his 
hopes ? " 

"I have already told you. His ambition has no 
bounds. He aspires to be one of us." 
165 



The Latin Quarter 

"That is to say, he wants to make use of us," 
said Marcel. " He would like to be seen driving in 
our carriages." 

" What art does he follow? " asked Rodolphe. 

" Yes," continued Marcel, " what's his game? " 

"His art?" said Colline. "What's his game? 
Literature and philosophy combined." 

" What are his philosophical subjects? " 

" He practises departmental philosophy ; he calls 
art a religion." 

" A religion ! " said Rodolphe, with amazement. 

"He says so." 

" And what is his path in literature? " 

" He favours Telemachus." 

"Very good," said Schaunard, chewing at his 
artichoke fodder. 

"What? Very good, idiot?" interrupted Marcel. 
" I advise you not to say that in the street." 

Schaunard, annoyed at this reprimand, gave a 
little kick under the table to Phemie, who was 
making an invasion into his sauce. 

" Once more," said Rodolphe, " what is his posi- 
tion in the world? What are his means of living, 
his name, his dwelling-place?" 

" His status is honourable ; he is professor of all 
sorts of things in the bosom of a rich family. His 
name is Carolus Barbemuche ; he spends his 
revenues in the habitations of luxury, and lodges 
in the Rue Royale. 

" Furnished lodgings? " 

" No, he has furniture." 

* ' I ask a hearing, " said Marcel. "It is clear to me 
that Colline has been corrupted. He has sold his vote 
1 66 



A Reception in Bohemia 

in advance for the price of a little glass or two. 
Don't interrupt," continued Marcel, on seeing the 
philosopher rise to protest, ''you can reply pre- 
sently. Colline, a venal soul, has presented this 
stranger to you under an aspect too favourable to 
allow of its being an image of truth. I repeat 
that I see the designs of this stranger ; he wants 
to speculate with us. He has said to himself, 
' Those are fellows making their way. I will put 
my hand in their pockets my fingers in their pie 
with them I shall attain to fame.' " 

"Very good," said Schaunard. " Isn't there any 
more sauce ? " 

"No," replied Rodolphe, "the edition is ex- 
hausted. 

"Moreover," continued Marcel, "this insidious 
mortal who patronises Colline aspires to the 
honour of intimac^ with us only with culpable 
thoughts. We are not alone here, gentlemen," 
continued the orator, casting expressive looks at 
the girls, "and Colline's prot6g is introduc- 
ing himself at our firesides under the mantle of 
literature. He may be nothing but a vile seducer. 
Reflect ! For my part, I vote against admitting 
him." 

" I ask a hearing only for a rectification," said 
Rodolphe. " In his remarkable oration Marcel has 
said that Carolus, the person in question, desired 
to dishonour us by introducing himself under the 
mantle of literature." 

" It is a correct figure," said Marcel. 

" I object to it. It is bad. Literature has no 
mantle." 

167 



The Latin Quarter 

"Since I fulfil here the functions of reporter," 
said Colline, rising to his feet, "I shall maintain 
the conclusions of my report. The jealousy de- 
vouring him seems to scare the common sense of 
our friend Marcel : the great artist is beside him- 
self 

"Order!" shouted Marcel. 

"Beside himself to such a point that he, such 
an excellent designer, introduces into his discourse 
a figure of speech of which the orator who has 
succeeded me at this tribune has revealed the 
inaccuracy." 

"Colline is an idiot!" cried Marcel, giving the 
table such a violent thump with his fist as to create 
a profound sensation among the plates and dishes. 
"Colline understands nothing of sentiment. He is 
utterly incompetent in such matters. He has an 
old leather book in place of a heart." (Shouts of 
laughter from Schaunard.) 

During this uproar Colline gravely shook the 
crumbs from the folds of his white cravat. When 
silence was re-established he continued his dis- 
course. 

"Gentlemen," he said, "with a single word I am 
going to banish from your minds the chimerical fears 
which the suspicion of Marcel may have generated 
in them touching Carolus." 

"Try to extinguish them," cried Marcel in banter- 
ing tones. 

" It will not be more difficult than that," replied 
Colline, putting out with a breath the match with 
which he had lighted his pipe. 

" Speak ! speak ! " cried with one voice Rodolphe, 
1 68 



A Reception in Bohemia 

Schaunard, and the girls, who found immense interest 
in the debate. 

" Gentlemen," said Colline, "notwithstanding 
that I have been personally and violently attacked, 
notwithstanding that I have been accused of selling 
the influence I may exercise among you for a glass 
of spirits I, strong in my conscience, shall not 
reply to the attacks made on my probity, on my 
loyalty, on my morality. (Emotion.) But there is 
a thing which I desire to maintain respected 
myself. (Here the orator gave himself two blows 
on his waistcoat with his fist.) It is my prudence 
and circumspection, so well known to you, which 
have had doubt cast on them. I am accused of 
wishing to bring among you a man who has hostile 
designs on your domestic happiness. This sup- 
position is an insult to the virtue of these ladies, 
and more, an insult to their good taste. Carolus 
Barbemuche is extremely ugly. (Visible denial 
upon the face of Phemie Teinturiere. Disturbance 
under the table, made by Schaunard, who corrects 
with his foot the compromising frankness of his 
young friend.) 

" But," continued Colline, " that which will reduce 
to powder the miserable argument which my adver- 
sary uses for a weapon against Carolus, in working 
upon your fears, is that the said Carolus is a Plato- 
nist." (Sensation among the men, dismay among 
the women.) 

"Platonist!" demanded Ph&nie. "What does 
that mean ? " 

"It is a malady among men who do not dare 
to make love to ladies," said Mimi. " I had a lover 
like that once for a couple of hours." 
169 



The Latin Quarter 

" Rubbish ! " said Mile. Musette. 

"You are quite right, my dear," said Marcel. 
" Platonism in love is water in wine, you know. 
Give us pure wine." 

" And long live youth ! " said Musette. 

Colline's words had created a favourable reaction 
towards Carolus. The philosopher deftly profited 
by the turn of affairs produced by his eloquent and 
adroit exculpation. 

"And now," he continued, "I cannot see what 
just obstacles can be raised against this individual, 
who, after all, has done us service. As for me, 
who stand accused of creating trouble by wish- 
ing to introduce him among us, I consider the 
opinion derogatory to my dignity. I have acted 
in the matter with the prudence of the serpent, 
and if a vote to that effect is not made to ac- 
credit me with such prudence, I shall offer my 
withdrawal." 

" Do you wish to make a cabinet question of it? " 
said Marcel. 

"I do," replied Colline. 

The three Bohemians consulted together, and by 
common consent agreed to restore to the philosopher 
the character for lofty prudence which he claimed. 
Colline then left the word to Marcel, who, somewhat 
recovered from his objections, declared that he 
would perhaps vote for the reporter's conclusions. 
Before, however, passing to the final vote which 
would confer on Carolus the intimacy of Bohemia, 
Marcel put this amendment : 

" Since the introduction of a new member to the 
Society is a grave matter, seeing that a stranger 
170 



A Reception in Bohemia 

might import elements of discord into it by ignoring 
the manners and habits, the characters and opinions 
of his comrades, each one of the members should 
pass a day in the company of the said Carolus, 
and devote himself to inquiry into his mode of life, 
his tastes, his literary capacity and his wardrobe. 
The Bohemians would then communicate their re- 
spective particular impressions to each other, and 
pronounce upon refusal or admission ; also before 
the accordance of such admission Carolus should 
undergo a novitiate of a month, that is to say, that 
for that period he should not address them in terms 
of intimate friendship nor give them his arm 
in the street. On the day of reception a splendid 
fete was to be given at the expense of the novice. 
The cost of these rejoicings not to exceed twelve 
francs." 

This amendment was carried by a majority of 
three to one, that being Colline, who considered 
that sufficient confidence had not been placed in 
him, and that the amendment was a renewed attack 
upon his prudence. 

The same evening Colline went very early 
to the cafe, in order to be the first to see 
Carolus. 

He had not long to wait. Carolus soon arrived, 
carrying three enormous bouquets of roses. 

"Good gracious!" said Colline in amazement, 
"what are you going to do with this garden?" 

" I remembered you told me yesterday that your 
friends would probably come with their ladies. 
They are very beautiful, and it is for them that 
I bring these flowers." 

171 



The Latin Quarter 

" But flowers can be had for fifteen sous." 

" What ! " said Carolus, " and in December ? If 
you said fifteen francs " 

"Oh, good heavens!" cried Colline. "Three 
crowns for these simple gifts of Flora. What folly ! 
You must be made of money. But, my dear sir, 
they are fifteen francs that will have to be thrown 
out of the window." 

" What on earth do you mean? " 

Colline thereupon related the jealous suspicions 
which Marcel had instilled into his friends' minds, 
and told Carolus of the stormy discussion which 
had taken place among the Bohemians on the ques- 
tion of his introduction to the circle. " I protested 
that your intentions were immaculate," added 
Colline, "but the opposition was none the less 
keen. You must be careful, therefore, not to arouse 
the jealous suspicions conceived against you by 
being too polite to the ladies. And to begin with, 
we will put those bouquets out of sight." 

And Colline, taking the roses, hid them in a 
cupboard. 

" But that is not all," he added ; " these gentlemen 
desire, before linking themselves in close intimacy 
with you, to devote themselves each one separately 
to an inquiry into your character, your tastes, etc." 
Then, in order that Barbemuche should not be too 
much hurt with his friends, Colline rapidly sketched 
out a moral portrait of each of the Bohemians. 
"You must try and accord with the humours of 
each," added the philosopher, "and in the end 
they will all be for you." 

Carolus gave unqualified consent. 
172 



A Reception in Bohemia 

The three friends soon arrived, accompanied by 
the ladies. 

Rodolphe was polite to Carolus, Schaunard was 
familiar, Marcel remained cold. As for Carolus, he 
exerted himself to be gay and pleasant with the 
men, while he was very distant towards the girls. 

On parting Barbemuche invited Rodolphe to dine 
with him next day, asking him, however, to come 
to him at midday. 

The poet accepted. 

" Good," he said to himself. " It is I who am to 
initiate the inquiries." 

On the next day, at the appointed hour, Rodolphe 
went to call on Carolus. Barbemuche indeed lodged 
in a very handsome house in the Rue Royale, and 
his room had a certain air of comfort, but Rodolphe 
was astonished to see that, although it was broad 
daylight, the shutters were closed, the curtains 
drawn, and a couple of lighted wax candles were 
on the table. He asked Barbemuche to explain 
this. 

" Study is the daughter of mystery and of silence," 
replied Barbemuche. They sat down and began to 
chat. After about an hour's conversation Carolus, 
with patience and not a little dexterity of speech, 
brought out a phrase which, in spite of its modest 
form, was nothing more nor less than a request that 
Rodolphe would listen to a little bit of work which 
was the fruit of his nights of studious application. 

Rodolphe saw that he was trapped. Moreover, 
as he was curious to see the colouring of Barbe- 
muche's style, he bowed politely, assuring him that 
he should be delighted to " 



The Latin Quarter 

Carolus did not wait to hear more. He ran and 
bolted the door of the room, securing it carefully, 
then he returned to Rodolphe, taking a little copy- 
book narrow in shape and thin enough to bring 
a smile of satisfaction and relief to the poet's 
face. 

"Is that the manuscript of your work?" he 
asked. 

4 'No," replied Carolus, "it is the catalogue of 
my manuscripts, and I am looking for the number 
of the one you permit me to read to you. Here it is 
' Don Lopez or Fatality,' number fourteen. It is 
on the third shelf," he added, as he opened a small 
cupboard, in which Rodolphe saw with dismay an 
enormous quantity of manuscripts. Taking one 
out, Carolus closed the cupboard and seated him- 
self opposite the poet. Rodolphe glanced at the 
four copy-books composing the work, written upon 
paper about the size of the Champ de Mars. 

"Come," he said to himself, "it is not in verse, 
but it is called * Don Lopez.' " 

Taking the uppermost book, Carolus began to 
read 

"'One cold winter's night two horsemen, en- 
veloped in the folds of their cloaks and mounted 
on slow-pacing mules, rode side by side along one 
of the roads which traverse the frightful solitude 
of the deserts of the Sierra Morena ' " 

"Where am I?" thought Rodolphe, confounded 
by this opening. Carolus continued to read the first 
chapter, all in the same style. 

Rodolphe listened with vague attention, thinking 
at the same time of some way of escape. 



A Reception in Bohemia 

"There is the window," he thought to himself; 
"but, besides its being- shut, we are on the fourth 
floor. Oh ! now I understand all these precautions." 

" What do you think of my first chapter? " asked 
Carolus. " I beg you won't spare criticism." 

Rodolphe recollectec' having heard somewhere 
before the rags of declamatory philosophy on 
suicide put forth in the name of Lopez, hero of 
the novel, and answered at hazard 

"The great figure of Don Lopez is studied 
conscientiously ; it recalls the Profession of Faith 
of the Savoyard Vicar. The description of Don 
Alvar's mule pleases me immensely. One might 
imagine it to be a sketch of Ge"ricault's. The 
description of the landscape has some fine lines. 
As to the sentiments, they are of Jean Jacques 
Rousseau's grain Rousseau sown in the ground 
of Le Sage. Only permit me one remark, you put 
too many commas, and you abuse the phrase * in 
former days.' They are charming words, fitting 
excellently now and again, and giving colour, but 
they should not be abused." 

Carolus took his second book, and again read 
out, "'Don Lopez or Fatality.'" 

"I knew a Lopez once," said Rodolphe. "He 
sold cigarettes and Bayonne chocolate. Perhaps he 
was related to yours. Go on." 

At the end of the second chapter the poet inter- 
rupted Carolus. 

"Don't you feel your throat getting tired?" he 
asked. 

"Not in the least," replied Carolus. "Now you 
shall hear the story of Ine"sille." 



The Latin Quarter 

"I am very curious to do so; but if you are 
tired," said the poet, "you must not " 

" Chapter three," said Carolus in a clear voice. 

Rodolphe scanned Carolus attentively, and noted 
that he had a very short neck and a sanguine com- 
plexion. "There is one more hope," thought the 
poet, when he had made this discovery. "It is 
apoplexy." 

"We will pass on to chapter four. You will be 
kind enough to tell me what you think of the love 
scene." 

And Carolus resumed his reading. 

Just as he looked at Rodolphe to read in his 
face the effect his dialogue was producing, Carolus 
perceived that the poet, bending over his chair, 
was holding his head in the attitude of a man 
who hears distant sounds. 

" What is the matter? " asked Carolus. 

" Hush ! " said Rodolphe. " Don't you hear? I 
fancy I hear them calling * Fire ! ' Shall we go 
and see?" 

Carolus listened for an instant, but heard nothing. 

" My ears deceived me," said Rodolphe. "Go on. 
Don Alvar prodigiously interests me. He is a noble 
youth." 

Carolus continued, putting all the music of his 
organ of speech into Don Alvar's words 

"'Oh, Ine"sille, whatever you may be, angel or 
fiend, and whatever may be your country, my life is 
yours, and I will follow you whether it be to 
heaven or to hell.'" 

At this moment there was a knock at the door, 
and a voice called Carolus outside. 
176 



A Reception in Bohemia 

"It is my messenger, I expect," he said, going 
to the door and partially opening it. 

It was the porter ; he brought a letter. Carolus 
opened it hurriedly. 

"How unfortunate!" he said. "We shall be 
obliged to put off the reading till another time. 
This letter compels me to go out immediately." 

"Oh," thought Rodolphe, "that letter must 
have fallen from heaven. I recognise the hand of 
Providence." 

"If you like," continued Carolus, "we will go 
together to the place this message comes from, and 
afterwards we will dine. " 

" I am at your disposal," said Rodolphe. 

In the evening, when he rejoined his friends, the 
poet was catechised by them concerning Barbemuche. 

" Are you pleased with him? Has he treated you 
well? " asked Marcel and Schaunard. 

" Yes, but it has cost me dear," said Rodolphe. 

' ' How ? Did Carolus make you pay ? " demanded 
Schaunard, with growing indignation. 

" He read me a romance in which there is a 
Don Lopez and a Don Alvar, and in which the 
leading characters call their mistress angel or 
fiend." 

" How hateful ! " said the Bohemians in chorus. 

" But otherwise," said Colline, " putting literature 
aside, what is your opinion of Carolus ? " 

" He is a good sort. For the rest, you can make 
your observations personally. Carolus understands 
that he has to treat with us one after the other. 
Schaunard is invited to breakfast to-morrow morn- 
ing. Only," added Rodolphe, "when you go to 
N 177 



The Latin Quarter 

Barbemuche's, beware of the manuscript cupboard. 
It is a dangerous piece of furniture." 

Schaunard was punctual to his appointment, and 
took upon himself the duties of an auctioneer and a 
broker's man. He also returned in the evening" well 
primed with his notes of observation. He had 
studied Carolus from the furniture point of view. 

"Well," his friends inquired, "what is your 
opinion? " 

"Oh!" replied Schaunard, "this Barbemuche is 
a conglomerate of good qualities ; he knows the 
names of all the wines, and made me eat all kinds 
of delicacies, such things as are not even to be seen 
at my aunt's on her birthday. He appears to be a 
great patron of the tailors of the Rue Vivienne, 
and of the bootmakers of the Panoramas. I also 
noticed that he is about our size, so that in an 
emergency we can lend him our clothes. His manners 
are less severe than Colline wanted to make out; 
he let himself be taken wherever I wished to lead him, 
and paid for a breakfast for me in two acts, of 
which the second took place at a drinking-shop in the 
market-place, where I am known only for my orgies in 
carnival time. Carolus went in there quite naturally. 
That is all ! Marcel is invited for to-morrow." 

Carolus was aware that Marcel was the one 
among the Bohemians who had put the greatest 
obstacles in the way of his reception into their 
circle. He therefore treated him with special 
circumspection, and found his way into the artist's 
favour by holding out a hope that he would be able 
to procure him commissions to paint the portraits of 
the members of his pupil's family. 
178 



A Reception in Bohemia 

After Marcel had made his report the friends no 
longer displayed the host'le prejudice they had at 
first shown towards Carolus. 

On the fourth day Colline informed Barbemuche 
that he was admitted. 

" What ! I am received ? " said Carolus joyfully. 

" Yes," replied Colline, " but under correction." 

" What do you mean by that? " 

" I mean that you have a number of little vulgar 
ways which you must correct." 

" I will endeavour to imitate you," replied 
Carolus. 

During all the time of his novitiate the platonic 
philosopher assiduously frequented the company of 
the Bohemians, and being thus put to deep study of 
their manners and ways, he was not without ex- 
periencing occasional sensations of astonishment. 

One morning Colline entered Barbemuche's room 
with a radiant countenance. 

"Well, my dear fellow," he said to him, "you 
are definitely one of us now. It is settled. There 
only remains to fix the day of the grand fete, and 
where it shall take place. I have come to arrange 
this with you." 

"That can easily be done," replied Carolus. 
"My pupil's parents are in the country just at 
present ; the young viscount to whom I am mentor 
will lend me his apartments for an evening. In that 
way we shall be more at our ease ; only we must 
invite the young viscount." 

"That will be all right," replied Colline. "We 
will open up the literary horizon to him. But do 
you think he will come ? " 
179 



The Latin Quarter 

"I'll answer for that." 

"Then it remains only to fix the day." 

" We will settle it this evening at the cafe," said 
Barbemuche. 

Carolus went at once in search of his pupil, and 
informed him that he was about to be received as a 
member into a famous literary and artistic society, 
and that to celebrate the reception he proposed to 
give a dinner, followed by a little fete ; he invited 
him to join his party of guests. 

"And as you must not be out late, and the fete 
will last late into the night for the general con- 
venience," added Carolus, "we will give the little 
entertainment here in these rooms. Francois your 
man is discreet, your parents will not know anything 
about it, and you will have made acquaintance with 
the most intellectual people in Paris artists and 
authors ! " 

" Printed ? " asked the youth. 

"Printed? certainly. One of them is the editor 
of the Iris," which your mother reads. They 
are very distinguished persons, almost celebrated. 
I am their intimate friend ; they have charming 
wives." 

"There will be women? " said Viscount Paul. 

" Charming women," replied Carolus. 

"Oh! my dear sir, I thank you. Yes, certainly 
we will have the fete here. We will light up all 
the lustres, and I will have the furniture cleared 
out." 

In the evening at the cafe" Barbemuche announced 
that the affair was to take place on the following 
Saturday. 

180 



A Reception in Bohemia 

The Bohemians instructed their mistresses to pre- 
pare their toilettes. 

"Do not forget," they said, "that we are going 
into real drawing-rooms. Therefore, mind, the 
dresses must be simple, but rich." 

No time was lost in informing the whole street 
that Miles. Mimi, Ph^mie, and Musette were going 
into the great world. 

And this is what happened on the morning of 
the great occasion. Colline, Schaunard, Marcel and 
Rodolphe went in file to Barbemuche, who was 
astonished to see them so early. 

"Has any accident occurred to defer the fete?" 
he asked uneasily. 

"Yes and no," replied Colline. "This is how it 
is. Among ourselves, you know, we never use any 
ceremony ; but when we go among strangers we 
must observe a certain decorum." 

" Well ? " said Barbemuche. 

"Well," continued Colline, "as to-night we are 
to meet a young gentleman who opens his rooms to 
us, respect to him and to ourselves tells us that our 
attire, somewhat neglected, may be compromising. 
We come simply to ask you if you could for this 
evening lend us a few clothes of a fashionable cut. 
It is impossible for us, you can understand, to enter 
under this sumptuous roof in paletots and short 
jackets." 

"But," said Carolus, "I haven't four dress 
coats." 

"Oh," said Colline, "we will manage with 
those you have." 

"Look for yourselves, then," said Carolus, open- 
ing his fairly well-stocked wardrobe. 
181 



The Latin Quarter 

" Ah, but you have a complete arsenal of 
elegancies there." 

"Three hats ! " said Schaunard ecstatically, "what 
is the good of three hats when one has only one 
head ? " 

" And the boots," said Rodolphe. " Only look ! " 

"There are boots? " shrieked Colline. 

And in a twinkling each had found a complete 
equipment. 

"To-night," said they, as they left Barbemuche, 
" the ladies intend to be dazzling." 

" But," said Barbemuche, casting his eye over 
his rifled portmanteau and cases, "you haven't 
left me anything. How am I to receive you ? " 

"Ah, you. That is different," said Rodolphe. 
" You are the host ; you can set etiquette aside." 

"But," said Carolus, "there is nothing left save 
a dressing - gown, a pair of long pantaloons, a 
flannel waistcoat, and a pair of slippers. You have 
taken everything." 

"What does it matter? We will excuse you in 
anticipation," replied the Bohemians. 

At six o'clock a very handsome dinner was served 
in the dining - room. The Bohemians arrived. 
Marcel walked lamely, and was in a vile humour. 
Young Viscount Paul hurried to meet the ladies, 
and conducted them to the best places. Mimi wore 
a highly fanciful toilette, Musette was dressed in 
most provocative style, Phemie was like a window 
garnished with glasses of all colours. The dinner 
lasted two hours and a half, and was uproariously 
merry. 

Young Viscount Paul was deeply smitten with 
182 



A Reception in Bohemia 

Mimi, who was his neighbour at table, and Phmie 
asked for a second help of everything. Schaunard 
put vine leaves in his hair, Rodolphe improvised 
sonnets and broke glasses in marking the rhythm, 
Colline chatted with Marcel, who was still very 
cross. 

" What is the matter? " asked Colline. 

* * My feet are in frightful agony, and that 
bothers me. This Carolus has got the foot of a 
fine lady." 

"But," said Colline, "it will be enough to let 
him understand that that sort of thing mustn't 
happen again, and that in future he must have his 
boots made a size or so too large. Make your 
mind easy. I will see to that. But let us go into 
the drawing-room, where the liqueurs are waiting 
for us." 

The festivities recommenced with increased bril- 
liancy. Schaunard sat down to the piano and 
played his new symphony "The Death of the 
Young Girl " with extraordinary vigour : and his 
beautiful piece "The Creditors' March" won the 
honours of a triple encore. Two strings of the 
piano were broken. 

Marcel's moroseness continued, and when Carolus 
grumbled at him for it, he replied 

"My dear sir, it is plain we shall not always 
be intimate friends, and for this reason. Physical 
dissemblances are almost invariably sure indications 
of moral dissemblance. Philosophy and medicine 
are agreed on the point." 
"Well?" said Carolus. 

"Well," said Marcel, displaying his feet, "your 
183 



The Latin Quarter 

boots, infinitely too narrow for me, indicate that we 
have not the same disposition. For the rest of it, 
your little entertainment has been charming." 

About one in the morning the Bohemians went 
away, returning home by devious ways. Barbemuche 
was indisposed, and maundered out foolish dis- 
courses to his pupil, who in his turn dreamed of 
Mimi's blue eyes. 



184 



XIII 
THE HOUSE-WARMING 

THESE events took place some little time after 
the poet Rodolphe had first set up house- 
keeping with Mile. Mimi, when for a whole week 
the Bohemians had been very uneasy about him, 
for he was nowhere to be found. They had sought 
for him in all his customary haunts, and everywhere 
met with the same answer 

"We have not seen him for a week past." 
Gustave Colline was especially disturbed, and for 
this reason. Some days previously he had entrusted 
to Rodolphe an article on the " Higher Philosophy," 
which Rodolphe was to insert in the occasional 
column of the Castor, the hatters' paper of which he 
was editor. Had this philosophical article appeared 
to the eyes of astonished Europe? That was the 
question which exercised the unhappy Colline ; and 
his anxiety will be understood when it is explained 
that as yet the philosopher had not known the dignity 
of print, and that he was burning with desire to see 
what effect his Ciceronic printed prose would produce. 
In order to procure this satisfaction, he had already 
expended nearly six francs in the reading-rooms of 
the literary institutions of Paris, but had failed to 
come upon the Castor. 

185 



The Latin Quarter 

No longer able to contain himself for anxiety, 
Colline took a mental oath that he would not rest 
until he had laid hand on the missing editor of the 
journal. 

Assisted by opportunities which it would take too 
long to relate, the philosopher contrived to keep 
his oath. Two days later, knowing where Rodolphe 
lived, he arrived at the door of the house at six 
o'clock in the morning. 

Rodolphe's apartment was in a furnished lodging- 
house of an obscure street in the Faubourg Saint 
Germain, where he resided on the fifth floor only 
because it had not a sixth. When Colline arrived 
at the door he did not find the key in it. He 
knocked for a good ten minutes without receiving 
any answer. The early morning clatter at last 
drew even the attention of the porter, who came 
and requested Colline to desist. 

"You might know the gentleman is asleep," he 
said. 

"And on that account I wish to waken him," 
said Colline, renewing his knocks. 

4 * He won't answer you then," said the man, as 
he put down at Rodolphe's door a pair of well- 
polished boots and a pair of woman's boots which 
had also been well attended to. 

"Wait a minute," said Colline, taking up the 
male and female foot gear. The masculine boots 
were brand new. " I must have mistaken the door," 
he went on ; " my business is not here." 

"But," said the attendant, "whom are you 
seeking? " 

"Woman's boots!" continued Colline, speaking 
1 86 



The House- Warming 

to himself, as he recalled his friend's austere mode 
of life. " Yes, undoubtedly I have made a mistake. 
This cannot be Rodolphe's room." 

" Excuse me, sir. It is." 

"Eh? No. It is you who are mistaken, my 
friend." 

"What?" 

" I am certain you are in error," went on Colline, 
pointing to the polished boots. "What are 
those?" 

"They are Monsieur Rodolphe's boots. What is 
there astonishing in that? " 

"And these?" rejoined Colline, pointing to the 
small pair. "Are these also Monsieur Rodolphe's, 
pray? " 

" They are the lady's," said the man. 

"The lady's!" exclaimed Colline. "Ah, the 
Sybarite! That is why he would not open." 

" Hang it ! " said the porter, " the young man is 
his own master. If you will give me your name, I 
will go in and inform Monsieur Rodolphe." 

"No," said Colline. "Now I know where to 
find him I will return presently," and he went back 
post-haste to announce the startling intelligence to 
his friends. 

The polished boots were treated as fabulous 
due to the wealth of Colline's imagination, and 
it was unanimously agreed that the lady was a 
paradox. 

The paradox was nevertheless a truth, for the 
same evening Marcel received a letter intended for 
all the friends collectively. It was couched in the 
following terms : 

187 



The Latin Quarter 

"Monsieur Rodolphe, man of letters, and Madame Rodolphe 
request the pleasure of your company to dine with them to- 
morrow evening at five o'clock precisely. 

" N.B. There will be plates." 

" Gentlemen," said Marcel, as he proceeded to com- 
municate the missive's contents to his companions, 
"it is certain that Rodolphe has a mistress ; more, 
he invites us to dinner, and," continued he, "the 
postscript promises table appointments. I do not 
conceal from you that this clause appears to me 
a poetical exaggeration. However, we shall see. " 

Next day at the appointed hour Marcel, Gustave 
Colline and Alexandre Schaunard, as hungry as if 
it were the last day of Lent, repaired to Rodolphe's 
lodging. They found him playing with an Angora 
cat, while a young woman was laying the table. 

* ' Gentlemen, "said Rodolphe, as he shook hands with 
his friends and pointed to the young woman, " allow 
me to introduce to you the mistress of the house." 

"You are the house, aren't you?" said Colline, 
who was infected with this kind of wit. 

"Mimi," said Rodolphe, "let me present to you 
my best friends. And now bring the soup." 

" Oh, madame," said Alexandre Schaunard, hurry- 
ing towards Mimi, * { you are as fresh as a wild flower ! " 

After convincing himself that there really were 
plates on the table, Schaunard proceeded to ascer- 
tain what there was to eat, pushing curiosity to the 
extent of lifting the lids of the saucepans in which 
the dinner was simmering. The presence of a 
lobster created a lively impression on him. As to 
Colline, he at once drew Rodolphe on one side to 
inquire about his philosophical article. 
1 88 



The House-Warming 

"My dear fellow, it is at the printer's. The 
Castor will appear next Tuesday." 

We refrain from picturing the delight of the philo- 
sopher. 

"Gentlemen," said Rodolphe, "I must ask your 
pardon for being so long before giving you news of 
myself, but it was my honeymoon " ; and he re- 
counted the history of his union with the charming 
creature who had brought him as her dowry her 
eighteen and a half years, two porcelain cups 
and an Angora cat who was called " Mimi," like 
herself. " And so, gentlemen," said Rodolphe, " to- 
night we have a house-warming. I warn you for 
the rest of it that our repast will be a homely 
one. The truffles will be replaced by the sincerest 
cordiality." 

Nor did the amiable young divinity Mimi cease to 
reign pre-eminent among the friends. They found 
that that night's feast, though it might be frugal, 
was not wanting in a certain distinction. Rodolphe, 
in fact, had put himself to some expense. Colline 
noticed that the plates were changed, and loudly 
declared that Mademoiselle Mimi was worthy of 
the azure scarf with which the empresses of the 
oven and the spit are decorated words which 
were Sanskrit to the young girl until Rodolphe 
translated them for her by saying "that she 
would make an excellent queen of cooks." 

The entrance of the lobster upon the scene excited 
general admiration. Under pretence of studying 
natural history Schaunard asked permission to 
dissect it. He profited by the occasion to break 
a knife, and he gave himself the largest share, 
189 



The Latin Quarter 

which excited general indignation. But he was 
not troubled with excess of delicacy, especially 
in the matter of lobster, and as a bit of it still 
remained he had the audacity to put it aside for 
himself, remarking that it would serve him for the 
model of a picture of still life which he had in 
hand. 

Indulgent friendship feigned to believe in this lie, 
a product of immoderate gluttony. As for Colline, 
he reserved his sympathies for the dessert, and 
maintained his ground in most heartless fashion 
against Schaunard, who wanted to exchange an 
orange confection for his piece of rum cake. 

Conversation now began to wax animated. To 
three bottles with a red seal succeeded three bottles 
with a green seal, in the midst of which appeared 
a flask whose neck and mouth were adorned with a 
silver helmet. It was hailed as one of the batch from 
Royal Champenois, a fancy champagne concocted 
from the vines of Saint Ouen, and sold in Paris at 
two francs the bottle, on account, as the wine mer- 
chants who vended it said, of bankruptcy. 

But it is not the country which makes the wine, 
and our Bohemians accepted the liquor served out 
to them in the appropriate glasses as the real stuff, 
and in spite of the small amount of vivacity displayed 
by the cork as it escaped from its bonds, they were 
all loud in praise of the fizz it made. Schaunard 
employed what remained of his cool audacity in 
mistaking Colline's glass for his own, leading Colline 
to soak his biscuit in the mustard-pot, while enter- 
taining Mimi on the subject of the philosophical 
article which was about to appear in the Castor. 
190 



The House. Warming 

But suddenly Colline grew very pale, and asked 
permission to go to the window and watch the sun 
set, although it was now ten o'clock at night, and the 
sun had been in bed and asleep for ever so long. 

" It is a pity the champagne has not been iced," 
said Schaunard, trying again to substitute his empty 
glass for his neighbour's full one, an endeavour 
which was unsuccessful. 

" Madame," said Colline to Mimi, for he had now 
ceased to inhale the fresh air at the window, ''cham- 
pagne is cooled with ice, ice is formed by the con- 
densation of water in Latin, aqua. Water freezes 
at two degrees, and there are four seasons 
summer, autumn and winter. It is that which 
caused the retreat from Russia. Rodolphe, give 
me a hemistitch of champagne." 

"What does he say?" demanded Mimi, who did 
not understand. 

"It is his little joke," said Rodolphe. "Colline 
means a half-glass." 

Suddenly Colline gave Rodolphe a smart slap on 
the shoulder, and said in a thick voice, as if the 
words were wrapped in paste, " To-morrow is 
Thursday, isn't it?" 

" No," replied Rodolphe, " to-morrow is Sunday." 

"No, Thursday." 

"No, once more, to-morrow is Sunday." 

"Ah! Sunday," said Colline, his head waggling; 

"but to-morrow Thurs day " And he fell asleep 

with his head almost in the cream cheese on his plate. 

"What is he mumbling about Thursday?" said 
Marcel. 

"Ah! I know now," said Rodolphe, who began 
191 



The Latin Quarter 

to understand the philosopher's insistence, tortured 
as he was by his fixed idea; "it is because of his 
article in the Castor. Listen ! he is dreaming out 
loud about it." 

" Good ! " said Schaunard. " He won't want any 
coffee, will he, madame ? " 

"By the way," said Rodolphe, "what about the 
coffee, Mimi?" 

As she rose to go and prepare it Colline, who had 
pulled himself together a little, caught her by the 
waist and murmured confidentially in her ear, 
"Madame, coffee is indigenous to Arabia, where it 
was discovered by a goat. The use of it passed 
into Europe. Voltaire used to take seventy-two 
cups of it a day. I like it without sugar, but I 
take it very hot." 

"Gracious! How learned this gentleman is!" 
thought Mimi as she brought the coffee and the 
pipes. 

The hours were, however, running on apace. 
Midnight had struck long since, and Rodolphe 
endeavoured to make his guests understand that it 
was time to retire. Marcel, who alone was in full 
command of his senses, rose to go. 

But Schaunard perceived that there still remained 
some brandy in the bottle, and declared that it 
could not be midnight while anything remained in 
the flask. As for Colline, he was seated astride on 
' his chair, and sang in a deep bass voice, " Monday, 
Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday." 

"Ah!" said Rodolphe, terribly put about, "I 
can't take care of them here all night. Once it 
used to be well enough, but now it is quite a 
192 



The House-Warming 

different thing," he added, looking at Mimi, whose 
eyes, softly shining, seemed to be yearning for 
solitude a deux. What was to be done? "Advise 
me, Marcel," Rodolphe whispered. "Invent some 
little tarradiddle for getting rid of them." 

"No," said Marcel, "I shan't invent, I will 
imitate. I remember a play in which a clever valet 
finds a way of putting three fellows who were as 
tipsy as Silenus outside his master's door." 

"I remember it," said Rodolphe. "It is in 
Kean. In fact, the situation is the same." 

"Very well," said Marcel, "we will see if the 
theatre is true to nature. Wait an instant ; let us 
begin with Schaunard. Hi ! Schaunard ! " shouted 
the painter. 

" Eh ? What is it ? " cried Schaunard, who seemed 
to be floating in a sea of mild intoxication. 

"There is nothing more to drink here, and we 
are all thirsty." 

"Ah, yes," said Schaunard, "these bottles they 
are so small." 

" Very well," said Marcel, " Rodolphe has decided 
that we shall pass the night here, and in that case 
something must be fetched before the shops are 
closed." 

"My grocer lives at the corner of the street," 
said Rodolphe. " Schaunard, you will have to go 
and get from him two bottles of rum to my 
account." 

"Oh yes! oh yes! oh yes!" said Schaunard, 
taking Colline's overcoat in mistake for his own, 
while Colline was making lounges at the tablecloth 
with a knife. 

o 193 



The Latin Quarter 

"That is one settled," said Marcel when Schau- 
nard had gone. " This fellow will be tougher. Ah ! 
I have an idea. Eh ! eh ! Colline ! " he shouted, 
giving the philosopher a violent shove. 

"What? What? What?" 

" Schaunard is gone, and has taken your light 
brown overcoat in mistake for his own ! " 

Colline looked round, and saw that in fact in the 
place where his coat had hung there was only 
Schaunard's little plaid cutaway. A sudden idea 
crossed his mind and filled him with uneasiness. 
Colline, after his usual custom, had been haunting 
the bookstalls during the day, and he had bought 
for fifteen sous a Finnish grammar and a little 
romance by Nisard, entitled The Milkmaid's Funeral. 
With these acquisitions there were seven or eight 
volumes of the higher philosophy which he was 
accustomed to carry about with him, in order always 
to have an arsenal to turn to for arguments in case 
of philosophical discussions arising. The notion of 
this library being in the hands of Schaunard gave 
him the cold shivers. 

"The wretch ! " cried Colline, "what did he take 
my coat for ? " 

" It was by mistake." 

"But my books! he might make a bad use of 
them." 

"Don't be afraid. He won't read them," said 
Rodolphe. 

"Yes, but I know him. He is quite capable of 
lighting his pipe with them." 

"If it makes you uneasy, you can catch him up," 
said Rodolphe. " He has only this instant gone. 
You will find him at the door." 
194 



The House^ Warming 

"Yes, I'll catch him up," said Colline, clapping 
on his hat, which was large enough to cover a family 
teapot. 

"That's number two," said Marcel to Rodolphe. 
"Now you are free, I am off; and I will tell the 
porter not to open the door if anybody knocks." 

"Good night," said Rodolphe, "and many 
thanks." As he returned from accompanying his 
friend to the street door, Rodolphe heard a pro- 
longed noise, to which his cat responded by another 
noise, trying at the same time to escape through 
the half-open door. 

"Poor Romeo!" said Rodolphe. "There is 
Juliet calling him. Well, go then," he added, 
opening the door to the animal, who made a bound 
from the landing into the paws of his admirer. 

Alone with his beloved Mimi, who, standing 
before a mirror in a charming pose, was curling her 
hair, Rodolphe approached her and folded his arms 
about her. Then, like a musician who strikes a 
succession of chords to assure himself of the perfect 
tunefulness of his instrument, Rodolphe drew Mimi 
on his knee, and imprinted on her shoulder a long 
and passionate kiss, which sent a sudden thrill 
through her delicate frame. 

The instrument was in perfect harmony. 



XIV 

MADEMOISELLE MIMI 

OH, my friend Rodolphe, what has happened to 
make such a change in you? Must I believe 
the rumours that are circulating, and is it possible 
that misfortune can so completely destroy your 
lofty philosophy ? How can I the humble chronicler 
of your Bohemian days, so full of laughter and 
merriment how can I record in sufficiently melan- 
choly terms the painful occurrence which stemmed 
the flow of your gaiety and with one blow arrested 
all your paradoxes ? 

Oh, Rodolphe, my friend ! I admit that the 
misfortune was great, but there, really it is not 
a question of drowning one's self. Blot out the 
past, I beg you. Flee at once the solitudes 
peopled with phantoms, which only perpetuate 
your regrets. Fly from the silence, where the 
echoes of remembrance are fraught with your joys 
and your griefs. Take courage, and cast to the 
four winds the name you have so loved, and with 
it fling afar all that you possess belonging to her. 
Lopks of hair half kissed away by the passionate 
lips ; the little Venetian scent flask where the 
breath of perfume lingers, which is for you now 
more dangerous than all the poisons in the world; 
196 



Mademoiselle Mimi 

into the fire with the flowers of gauze, of silk 
and of velvet, the white jasmine, the anemones, 
purpled with the blood of Adonis, the blue forget- 
me-nots, and all the charming little bouquets which 
she put together in the far-off days of your brief 
happiness. Yes, I loved her myself your Mimi. 
And I did not foresee that there would be danger to\ 
you in loving her. But take my advice ; into the 
fire with the ribbons, the pretty ribbons, pink, blue ' 
and yellow, which she wore so alluringly round her 
neck ; into the fire with the laces and the caps, and 
the veils, and the coquettish fallals, with which she 
adorned herself for the mathematical love arrange- 
ments with Monsieur C6sar, Monsieur Jerome, 
Monsieur Charles, and the other gallants of the 
Calendar, while you waited at the window shivering 
with the biting winds and winter frosts ; into the 
fire, Rodolphe, and pitilessly, with all which belonged 
to her and can speak to you of her ; into the fire 
with the love-letters. Ah ! here is one, and you 
have wept over it like a fountain, my unhappy 
friend : 

" As you have not come in, I am going out to see my Aunt. 
I take w4ik me the money which is here, as I shall want a 
cab. LUCILE." 

And that evening, Rodolphe, you had no dinner. 
Do you remember? And you came to see me and 
let off a shower of fireworks of jests, which bore 
witness to your peace of mind, for you thought 
Lucile was with her aunt, and if I had told you 
she was with Monsieur C&sar, or with some actor or 
other from Montparnasse, you would certainly have 
murdered me. Into the fire, therefore, with this 
197 



The Latin Quarter 

other note, which has all the laconic tenderness of 
the first : 

" I am going- to order a pair of boots. You must find the 
money without fail by the time they are done within the 
next three days." 

Ah, my friend, those little boots have danced 
many a turn when you were not the partner. To 
the flames with those memories, and to the wind 
with their ashes. 

But first, oh, Rodolphe, for the love of human- 
ity and for the honour of the Iris and of the 
Castor^ pick up again the reins of good taste 
which you let fall during your egotistical sufferings, 
lest terrible things befall for which you would be 
responsible. We should return to leg-of-mutton 
sleeves, to pantaloons a petit pont, we should be 
be seeing hats which would offend the universe and 
call down the wrath of heaven. 

And now the time is come to relate the story of 
the loves of our friend Rodolphe and Mile. Lucile, 
surnamed Mile. Mimi. It was just at the turn of his 
four-and-twentieth year that Rodolphe's heart was 
suddenly seized with this passion which exercised 
such an enormous influence on his life. 

At the time of his first meeting with Mimi 
Rodolphe led the happy -go -lucky -anyhow exist- 
ence which it has been the endeavour to portray 
in the preceding chapters. It certainly was one 
of the gayest sorts of misery to be found in the 
country of Bohemia. And when in the course of 
the day he had made a bad dinner and a bon-mot, 
he walked on the pavement, which scarcely seemed 
198 



Mademoiselle Mimi 

wide enough for him, more proudly in his black coat 
whose every bare seam appealed for mercy than 
an emperor in his purple robes. 

The circle to which Rodolphe belonged, by a pre- 
tence not uncommon to certain young people, affected 
to treat love as a luxury and the pretext for a jest. 
Gustave Colline who had for a long time past asso- 
ciated himself with a waistcoat-maker whom he had 
rendered crooked in body and mind by making 
her copy the manuscripts of his philosophical 
treatises, day in night out pretended that love 
was a sort of purgation, which it was desirable 
to take occasionally in order to clear off humours. 
Among all these false sceptics, Rodolphe was 
the only one who dared to speak with any 
reverence of love ; and when they were unlucky 
enough to let him get upon the subject he would 
perorate for an hour at a time on it, chanting of 
the delights of being loved, the azure loveliness 
of the calm lake, the music of the breeze, the 
harmonies of the stars, etc., etc. This had earned 
him from Schaunard the nickname of the " Harmoni- 
con." Marcel had also found a very nice name for 
him in connection with these sentimental and 
German tirades, as also in allusion to his prema- 
ture baldness, and called him the " Bald Forget- 
me-not." The truth of it was that Rodolphe about 
that time seriously believed that he had done with 
all the things of youth and love ; he merely chanted 
the De profundis for his heart, which he believed 
to be dead ; but it was only sleeping. It was ready 
to waken, eager for happiness and more sus- 
ceptible than ever to all the delightful anguish which 
199 



The Latin Quarter 



he had never hoped to know again, but which were 
now driving him to despair. Ah, you desired it, 
Rodolphe! and we will not pity you; for this pain 
that you suffer is the one to be most desired, especi- 
ally if one feels it incurable. 

n Rodolphe had first met Mimi when she was the 
i mistress of one of his friends, and he had made her 

\jHiis own. At first there was a tremendous to-do 
among Rodolphe's friends when they heard of his 
union ; but as Mile. Mimi was very sociable, no 
fool, and endured the smoke of their pipes and their 
literary discussions without a headache, they got 
used to her and treated her as a comrade. Mimi 
was a charming woman, and her disposition admir- 
ably suited the poetic and plastic nature of Rodolphe. 
She was twenty-two, petite in figure, delicate, full 
of roguery. Her face was, of an aristocratic type, 
but her features, which were of extreme delicacy, 
/though they were softly illumined by the light of 

/ her limpid blue eyes, were overcast in moments of 
ennui or of ill-humour by an expression of cruelty 
that was almost savage, and a physiognomist might 
ve seen in it the indications of profound egoism 
or of great insensibility. Generally, however, it 
was a charming countenance, brightened by a sweet, 
spontaneous smile and a tender expression touched 
with coquetry. Her youthful blood coursed warm 
and quickly in her veins, tinting her white, trans- 
parent skin like the petals of a camellia. This 
fragile loveliness enchained Rodolphe, and he would 
pass hours of the night imprinting kisses on the pale 
forehead of his sleeping mistress, whose humid, 
languorous eyes shone half- closed through the 
200 



Mademoiselle Mimi 

tresses of her magnificent brown hair. But what 
maddened Rodolphe with passionate admiration 
for Mile. Mimi were her hands, whose white- 
ness, in spite of household work, she knew how to 
preserve as entirely as if she were the goddess of 
idleness herself. Yet these hands, which were so 
fragile, so small, so soft to the touch of his lips, 
those childlike hands into whose keeping Rodolphe 
had given his heart, with its renewed blossom these 
white hands of Mile. Mimi were soon to mutilate 
the poet's heart with their pink nails. 

Before a month was over Rodolphe began to see 
that he had espoused a tempest, and that his mistress 
had a great defect. She was a gossip among the 
neighbours, and passed a great part of her time 
among the women of the locality, with whom she 
speedily struck up acquaintance. The result was 
what Rodolphe had feared when he first noted the 
acquaintances made by his mistress. The opulence 
of some of these new friends created a world of 
ambition in the soul of Mimi, who hitherto had had 
modest tastes and had been content with the neces- 
saries of life which Rodolphe had done his best to 
procure for her. Mimi began to dream of silks, and 
velvets, and laces, and in spite of Rodolphe's pro- 
hibitions she continued to cultivate the society of the 
women who united in persuading her to break with 
the Bohemian who could not so much as give her a 
hundred and fifty francs to buy a gown. 

" Pretty as you are," said these counsellors, "you 
would easily find a better position ; you have only 
to seek it." 

And Mile. Mimi set to work to seek it. Noticing 
201 



The Latin Quarter 

her frequent absences from home, for which she 
made lame excuses, Rodolphe found himself on the 
miserable path of suspicion. But from the instant 
he imagined he was on the track of any proof of 
infidelity he fiercely tied a bandage over his eyes, 
so that he should not see anything. However it 
might be, he adored Mimi. He had that jealous, 
fantastic, querulous, strange love which the young 
woman was incapable of comprehending because 
she had for Rodolphe only that lukewarm attach- 
ment which is the result of habit. And besides, 
half of her heart had been given to her first love, 
and the other half was still full of the remembrance 
of that first love. 

In this way eight months passed, alternated by 
good times and wretched ones, and during this 
period Rodolphe was constantly on the point of 
separating himself from Mimi, who was full of all 
the cruelties of a woman who has no love in her. 
Speaking plainly, their existence had become a hell 
for both, but Rodolphe grew accustomed to these 
daily miseries, and dreaded nothing so much as to 
see this state of things cease, for he felt that with 
that there would cease for ever the youthful fevers 
and emotions which had revived within him. And 
then, all being told, it must be said that there were 
times when Mile. Mimi cleverly enough made 
Rodolphe forget the suspicions which lacerated his 
heart. There were times when she would creep to 
his knees like a child, and in the sweetness of her 
blue eyes the poet found again the poetry he had 
lost ; his youth returned to him and, thanks to her, 
he basked in the sunshine of love. Two or three 

202 



Mademoiselle Mimi 

times in a month, in the middle of their stormy 
quarrels, Rodolphe and Mimi paused, as it were, 
by mutual consent, in the refreshing oases of love 
and soft caresses. Then Rodolphe would take to 
his breast the exquisite head and smiling- face, and 
for hours would murmur the delightfully absurd lan- 
guage which passion improvises in its hours of 
delirium. Mimi would listen, calm at first, more 
astonished than moved ; but at last Rodolphe's 
enthusiastic eloquence, now gay, now tender, 
now melancholy, would win her. She seemed to 
feel the ice of her heart melting under the contact, 
a contagious warmth would steal over her, and 
casting herself on his bosom, she would tell him 
with her kisses all that words had not power to 
speak. Dawn would surprise them thus locked in 
embraces, their eyes looking into each other's, 
their hands locked together, while their passionate 
lips uttered the immortal refrain 

"Which for five thousand years 
Of nights the lips of lovers have murmured." 

But next day the most futile pretext would bring 
on a quarrel, and terrified love would fly away. 

At last, however, Rodolphe saw that if he was 
not careful Mile. Mimi's white hands would thrust 
him into an abyss where he would lose his future 
and his youth. One minute austere reason would 
speak within him more loudly than love, and he 
convinced himself with fine reasonings based upon 
proofs that his mistress no longer loved him. He 
even went the length of telling himself that the hours 
of tenderness she spared him were no more than the 
caprices of a feeling like that which married-women 
203 



The Latin Quarter 

feel for their husbands when they want a new gown 
or are afflicted with a cashmere fever. Or, their 
lovers being absent, the suggestive proverb comes 



must be content with brown." In short, Rodolphe 
was able to pardon his mistress everything except 
not being loved by her. He therefore took courage, 
and announced to Mile. Mimi that she would have 
to find another lover. Mimi laughed at this, and 
treated it lightly. Finally, however, finding that 
Rodolphe stuck to his resolution and received her 
with perfect coolness after she had absented herself 
for a night and a day, she began to get a little 
uneasy under a firmness and resolve to which she 
was so unaccustomed. For two or three days, 
therefore, she was charming, but her lover did not 
retract his words, and contented himself with asking 
whether she had found someone. 

" I have not sought," she answered. 

Nevertheless she had sought, and that before 
Rodolphe had given her the advice to do so. 
In the course of a fortnight she had made two 
attempts. One of her women friends had aided 
her, and contrived to effect an introduction to a 
youth who had dazzled Mimi's eyes with an 
horizon of Indian cashmeres and splendid rosewood 
furniture, but in Mimi's opinion the young student 
who might be very strong in algebra was not a very 
brilliant scholar in love ; and as she did not like 
teaching, she sent the amorous novice with his cash- 
meres, which were still nibbling on Thibet meadows, 
and his rosewood furniture, that was still in leaf 
in the forests of the New World, to the right-about. 
204 



MademoiseDe Mimi 

The studious youth was soon replaced by a Breton 
gentleman, towards whom Mimi really felt some 
attraction, and there was no need for much seeking 
to become countess ; but in spite of his mistress's 
protestations, Rodolphe got wind of the intrigue. 
He wanted to know his real position, and one 
morning, following a night on which Mimi did 
not return home, he went to the house where he 
suspected she was, and there he was able at his 
leisure to find ample proof of his suspicions. Her 
eyes sparkling with triumph, he saw Mimi leave 
the mansion where she had ennobled herself, lean- 
ing on the arm of her new lord and master, who 
evidently was as proud of his new conquest as 
Paris the Greek shepherd was when he carried off 
the fair Helen. 

On seeing her lover Mimi evinced a little sur- 
prise. She went to him, and for about five minutes 
they talked quietly together. Then they separated, 
each going their several ways. The rupture had 
come. 

Rodolphe returned home, and passed the day in 
putting up in packages all the things which had 
belonged to Mimi. 

During the day following the divorce from his 
mistress he received visits from some of his friends 
and told them what had taken place. Every one 
congratulated him on the event, as if it were a very 
fortunate one. 

"We will help you, oh my poet," said one of 

those who had been the most frequent witnesses of 

the wretchedness Mimi had caused Rodolphe ; " we 

will help you to withdraw your heart from the 

205 



The Latin Quarter 

hands of a wicked woman. And after a little you 
will find yourself cured and quite ready to go 
running- with another Mimi about the green lanes 
of d'Aulnay and Fontenay-aux-Roses." 

Rodolphe declared that those days were over 
ended in regrets and despair. He however allowed 
himself to be taken to the Mabille ball, where his 
careless attire very wretchedly represented the Iris, 
which procured him free entry of the beautiful 
garden with all its elegance and pleasures. There 
Rodolphe met new friends, with whom he fell to 
drinking. He told them his misfortunes in strange, 
extravagant terms, and for quite an hour they were 
full of interest and sympathy. 

" Alas ! alas ! " said Marcel, as he listened to the 
torrent of irony which fell from his friend's lips, 
" Rodolphe is too merry, much too merry ! " 

" He is charming!" rejoined a young woman to 
whom Marcel had just offered a bouquet; "and 
although he is frightfully dressed, I would not mind 
compromising myself by dancing with him, if he 
would ask me." 

In two seconds Rodolphe, who had heard her, 
was at her feet, clothing his invitation in words 
scented with all the musk and perfume of gallantry 
a 80 degres Richelieu. The lady sat confounded by 
this language embroidered by such brilliant ad- 
jectives, which would have done credit to the polite 
days of the Regency, and which was enough to 
make the heels of his shoes blush, for he had never 
comported himself in such old Sevres china fashion. 
The invitation was accepted. 

Rodolphe was as ignorant of the merest elements 
206 



Mademoiselle Mimi 

of dancing as of the rule-of-three, but he was excited 
to astounding audacity, and did not hesitate to 
break off and improvise a figure unknown to the 
devotees of Terpsichore. It was a figure, he said, 
called "the figure of regrets and sighs," and its 
originality attracted boundless attention. The three 
thousand jets of gas might well flicker and flare as 
if in mockery and amazement, but Rodolphe kept 
on, all the time overwhelming his partner with 
entirely unpublished handfuls of madrigals. 

"Alas!" said Marcel, "it is almost incredible. 
Rodolphe gives me the impression of a drunken 
man rolling on shattered glasses." 

"Meanwhile he has made conquest of a superb 
woman," said another, as he watched Rodolphe 
hurrying away with his companion. 

"You are not going to say good-bye?" called 
Marcel after him. 

Rodolphe came back to the artist and stretched 
out his hand a hand that was cold and damp as 
a wet stone. 

Rodolphe's partner was a fine Normandy girl, 
of exuberant nature, whose native rusticity had 
speedily grown refined and even aristocratic amidst 
Parisian luxuries and a life of idleness. She called 
herself something like Madame Se"raphine, and at 
that time was mistress of a certain Rhumatisme, 
peer of France, who gave her fifty louis a month, 
which she shared with a clerk who gave her in 
return nothing but blows. Rodolphe had pleased 
her (she hoped that he would not give her any- 
thing), and she took him home to her lodging. 

"Lucile," she said to her maid, "I am not at 
207 



The Latin Quarter 

home to anybody," and after going into her room, 
where she remained for a few minutes, she returned 
attired in an airy costume. She found Rodolphe 
motionless and dumb, for ever since he came in he 
had sunk, in spite of himself, into the gloom of 
silent, sad thoughts. 

"You don't look at me. You don't speak to me," 
said Seraphine, astonished. 

"Well, come, then," said Rodolphe, lifting 
his head. " I will look, but only in the cause of 

Art." 

"And what a vision burst upon his sight ! " 

as Raoul says in the Huguenots. 

Seraphine was magnificently handsome. Her 
splendid form, set off to advantage by the fashion 
of her garments, gleamed seductively through the 
half-transparent tissues. All the imperious ardour 
of desire awoke in Rodolphe's veins. A warm mist 
seemed to becloud his brain. He began to gaze at 
Seraphine from another point of view than the 
aesthetic one, and he took her beautiful hands in 
his. They were perfect hands, and might have been 
carved by the most delicate chisel of some Greek 
sculptor. Rodolphe felt these beautiful hands 
tremble in his ; and less and less the art critic, 
he drew Seraphine towards him, her face crimson- 
ing with the dawn of love. 

"This woman is a veritable instrument of plea- 
sure, a real Stradivarius of love, and I will gladly 
play upon her," thought Rodolphe, as he heard her 
heart beating loudly. 

At this moment a violent ring at the bell was 
heard at the door. 

208 



Mademoiselle Mimi 

"Lucile! Lucile ! " cried Seraphine to the maid. 
" Don't open the door. Say I have not returned." 

At the name of Lucile twice uttered Rodolphe 
rose. 

" I will not inconvenience you in any way, 
madame," he said. "Besides, I must be going. 
It is late, and I live a long way from here. Good 
night." 

"What! you are going?" cried Se'raphine, re- 
doubling the brilliant eloquence of her looks. 
"Why, why will you go? I am at liberty. You 
can stay." 

* ( Impossible, " replied Rodolphe. * * I am expecting 
to-night a relative who is coming from Tierra del 
Fuego, and he would disinherit me if he did not find 
me at home to receive him. Good night, madame." 

And he rushed out. The maid followed to light 
him. Rodolphe chanced to glance at her. She was 
a young, fragile, slow-paced woman ; her deadly 
white face contrasting charmingly with the black- 
ness of her naturally curling hair, and her blue 
eyes were like two faint stars. 

"Ah, phantom!" exclaimed Rodolphe, shrinking 
before the figure that bore the name and the 
countenance of his mistress. "Away with you! 
What do you want of me ? " and he rushed down 
the staircase. 

"Madame," said the girl as she re-entered the 
room, "that young man is mad ! " 

"Say he's a fool," replied the exasperated Sera- 
phine. "Oh!" she went on, "that will teach me 
to be good-natured again. If this stupid Leon had 
only the sense to come now." 
p 209 



The Latin Quarter 

Leon was the gentleman whose tender friendship 
carried a whip. 

Rodolphe ran all the way home without stopping. 
As he mounted the stairs he found the cat, who was 
mewing pitifully. For two nights past he had been 
calling thus for the unfaithful sweetheart, an Angora 
Manon Lescaut, who had gone in gallant company 
to some neighbouring roofs. "Poor beast!" said 
Rodolphe, " thou too hast been deceived ; thy Mimi 
has forsaken thee as mine has. Ah ! never mind. 
Let us console ourselves. Ah, my poor beast, the 
heart of women and of cats is an abyss that man 
and tom-cats will never be able to sound." 

As he entered the room, although the night was 
fearfully hot, Rodolphe seemed to feel as if a mantle 
of ice had fallen on his shoulders. It was the chill 
of solitude, of that terrible night-loneliness which 
nothing comes to disturb. He lighted his candle 
and looked round the devastated room. The 
cupboards and drawers stood open and empty, 
and from the ceiling to the floor profound melan- 
choly filled the little chamber, which seemed to 
Rodolphe bigger than a desert. His feet stumbled 
over the parcels and packages containing the 
belongings of Mademoiselle Mimi, and he felt a 
sort of gladness to think that as yet no one had 
come for them, as she said in the morning would 
be the case. 

Rodolphe, in spite of his wrestlings with himself, 
felt the hour of reaction was at hand, and he knew 
that a fearful night would expiate the absurd 
attempts at gaiety he had made during the even- 
ing. He hoped, however, that broken by fatigue 
210 



Mademoiselle Mimi 

as he was, he would fall asleep before the awaken- 
ing of the anguish which dwelt in his heart. 

As he approached and parted the curtains he 
gazed upon the bed which had not been slept in 
for the last two nights, and at the two pillows 
placed one beside the other, on one of which lay 
half lost in the coverlet a little trimmed cap. 
Rodolphe felt as if his heart was crushed in the 
terrible grooves of that misery which cannot vent 
itself. He fell at the bed's foot, burying his face 
in his hands, after having given one look round, 
and cried 

"Oh, little Mimi, joy of my home, is it true that 
you are gone that I have sent you away, and that 
I shall never see you again? My God ! Oh, pretty 
brown head, that has so often rested here, will you 
never come and sleep here again? Oh, capricious, 
changeful voice, whose caressing tones maddened me 
with delight and whose little tempers charmed me, 
shall I never hear you again? Oh, white little 
hands, with their blue veins to which my lips were 
wedded ; oh, white little hands, have you indeed 
received my last kiss ? " And in his delirium of 
misery Rodolphe plunged his head into the pillows 
still fragrant with the perfumes of her hair. In the 
shadows of the alcove he seemed to see the phantom 
of the nights which he had passed with his young 
mistress. He seemed to hear, clear and resonant 
through the silence, Mimi's ripples of laughter, and 
was filled once again with the delightful contagious 
gaiety that so many a time had made him forget 
all the anxieties and miseries of their precarious 
existence. 

211 



The Latin Quarter 

Throughout the night he passed in review the 
eight months which had fled by in the society of 
this girl who had never perhaps loved him, but 
whose tender pretences and deceit had known how 
to restore its youth and vigour to Rodolphe's 
heart. 

The pale dawn surprised him just when, con- 
quered by fatigue, he had closed his eyes, reddened 
by the tears which he had shed during the past 
night. Sad and terrible vigil, such as the most 
sceptical and scornful among us may find in our 
past years ! 

In the morning when his friends looked in they 
were horrified to see how Rodolphe's face was 
ravaged by all the agonies which had assailed him 
during his vigil on Love's Mount of Olives. 

"Good," said Marcel. "I was certain of it. It 
is his assumed gaiety of yesterday which has 
reacted on the heart. It must not be allowed to go 
on." 

And in concert with his companions, he began at 
the expense of Mile. Mimi a host of indiscreet reve- 
lations, each of which pierced like pine prickles into 
Rodolphe's heart. His friends proved to him that 
throughout his mistress had treated him as if he 
were a nothing a ninny, at home and abroad alike ; 
and that this girl, pale as the angel of consumption, 
was a network of corrupt and fierce instincts. 

In turn they took up the task, the intention 
being that Rodolphe should be led to the point 
where embittered love changes to contempt ; but 
the end was only partially attained. The despair 
of the poet changed to rage. He turned savagely 



Mademoiselle Mimi 

upon the packages which he had put up on the 
previous day, and after having laid on one side all 
the articles which his mistress had in her possession 
when she came to him, he kept back to himself all 
that he had given her during the time of their 
being together that is to say, the greater part, 
and, above all, the toilet articles to which Mimi 
clung with all the fibres of coquetry, till at last she 
had come to be absolutely insatiable. 

Mile. Mimi arrived next day to fetch away her 
things. Rodolphe was in and alone. It needed all 
his powers of self-control to keep him from cast- 
ing his arms about her neck. He received her with 
a mutely injured air, and Mimi retorted by such 
cold and pointed insults as force out the claws of 
the weakest and most timid. Under the disdain 
with which his mistress treated him so insolently, 
Rodolphe's indignation burst out into brutal and 
terrible violence ; for a moment Mimi, white with 
terror, wondered whether she would escape from 
his hands alive, until, alarmed by her cries, some 
neighbours came and took her away from the room. 

Two days after a friend of Mimi's came and asked 
him whether he would give up to her the things 
which he had kept back. "No," replied he. And 
he began to chat with Mimi's messenger. The 
woman told him that Mimi was in a wretched 
state of destitution and had not a roof over her 
head. 

" And the fellow she was so infatuated with ? " 

"But," said Amelie, the friend in question, "the 
young man had no intention of taking her for his 
mistress. He has had one this long time, and he 
213 



The Latin Quarter 

troubled himself little enough about Mimi, who is 
upon my hands, and a great trouble to me." 

"It will settle itself," said Rodolphe. "She 
would have it so. It is no concern of mine." And he 
recited a madrigal to Mile. Ame'lie, and persuaded 
her she was the loveliest woman in the world. 

Ame'lie related to Mimi the particulars of her visit 
to Rodolphe. 

" What did he say? What is he doing? " asked 
Mimi. " Did he speak to you of me? " 

"Not a word. You are already forgotten, my 
dear. Rodolphe has a new mistress, and he has 
bought her a splendid dress, for he has received a 
lot of money and is dressed like a prince himself. 
He is very agreeable. And he said charming things 
to me." 

" We know what that means," thought Mimi. 

Every day Mile. Ame'lie went to see Rodolphe on 
one pretext or another ; and try as he might, he 
could not help talking of Mimi. 

"She is very cheerful," said the friend, "and 
does not appear to be particularly anxious. More- 
over, she says she shall return to you when she 
likes without any asking, and means to do it to 
annoy your friends." 

"Very good," said Rodolphe. "Let her come, 
and we shall see." 

And he began to pay small attentions to Ame'lie, 
who reported all to Mimi when she returned, 
assuring her that Rodolphe was much taken with 
her. " He has kissed my hands and my neck again," 
she said. "Look, it is quite red! He wants to 
take me to the ball to-morrow." 
214 



Mademoiselle Mimi 

"My dear creature," said Mimi, greatly piqued, 
" I see what you are driving at you want to make 
me believe that Rodolphe is in love with you, and 
that he thinks no longer of me. But you lose your 
time both with him and with me." 

The fact was that Rodolphe was only agreeable 
to Ame"lie in order to get her to come to him often, 
and then he invariably found some excuse for speak- 
ing of Mimi ; but with a Machiavellism which per- 
haps had its object, and perceiving perfectly well 
that Rodolphe still loved Mimi, and that they might 
yet come together Ame"lie contrived by great adroit- 
ness to keep the two apart. 

The day of the ball Ame"lie came in the morning to 
ask Rodolphe if the arrangement was to hold good. 

"Yes," replied he. "I should be sorry to miss 
the chance of being cavalier to the most beautiful 
woman of modern times." 

Ame"lie put on the coquettish air which she had 
assumed when she had played soubrette at a small 
suburban theatre, and promised she would be ready 
in the evening. 

" By the way," said Rodolphe, " tell Mademoiselle 
Mimi that if she will be unfaithful to her lover in 
my favour and come some night to me, I will give 
her all her things again." 

Ame"lie fulfilled Rodolphe's commission, lending the 
words quite another sense than the one she had 
divined they were to convey. 

"Your Rodolphe is contemptible," she said. 

" His proposition is an infamous one. He wants 

by this trick to make you stoop to the ranks of the 

lowest creatures ; and if you go to him, he will not 

215 



The Latin Quarter 

only not give you up your things, but he will hold 
you up as a laughing-stock to his friends. It is a 
conspiracy they have made among themselves." 

"I shall not go," said Mimi, and when she saw 
Amelie preparing to dress for the ball she asked her 
if she was going. 

"Yes," replied Amelre. 

"With Rodolphe?" 

"Yes. He is going to meet me this evening a 
dozen yards away from the house." 

" I hope you will enjoy yourself," said Mimi, and 
towards the hour of the rendezvous she ran in great 
haste to Mile. Amelie's own special admirer, and 
informed him that she was about to play off a little 
treachery against him. 

The gentleman, jealous as a tiger and brutal as 
a cudgel, arrived at Mile. Amelie's rooms and in- 
formed her that it would be an excellent notion if 
she came that night with hyn>. 

At eight o'clock Mimi ran to the place where 
Rodolphe was to meet Amelie. She saw her lover, 
who was walking like a man waiting for someone. 
She passed him twice without daring to address 
him. Rodolphe was very carefully and well dressed 
that evening, and the violent agitation to which he 
had recently been the prey had added expression to 
his features. Mimi was greatly moved. At last she 
decided to speak to him. Rodolphe met her without 
showing any signs of anger, and inquired after her 
health ; after that he listened to the reason which 
had brought her to him ; all told in a soft voice and 
in accents of sadness striving for self-control. 

" I bring you bad news," she said. " Mademoiselle 
216 



Mademoiselle Mimi 

Amelie cannot go with you to the ball. Her lover 
wants her." 

" I will go to the ball alone, then." 

At this point Mile. Mimi feigned to trip, and held 
on for support by Rodolphe's shoulder. He took 
her by the arm, and offered to conduct her home. 

"No," said Mimi; "I live with Amelie, and as 
her lover is with her, I cannot go in again till he is 
gone." 

"Listen," said the poet then, "I made you a 
proposal through Mademoiselle Amelie. Has she 
delivered it? " 

"Yes," said Mimi, "but in terms in which, after 
what has happened, I could not place any trust. 
No, Rodolphe, I did not believe that in spite of all 
you have to reproach me with, you could think me 
so poor-spirited as to accept such a bargain." 

"You did not understand, or else my message 
was misrepresented. But what is said, is said," 
added Rodolphe. "It is nine o'clock. You have 
three hours to consider. My key will be hanging 
by my door till midnight. Good night or au revoir." 

"Good-bye, then," said Mimi in trembling tones, 
and they parted. Rodolphe returned home and 
flung himself all dressed as he was on his bed. At 
half-past eleven Mile. Mimi entered his room. 

" I come to ask your hospitality," she said. 
" Amelie's lover is still with her, and I cannot go 
in. " They talked together till three in the morning 
a sort of explanatory conversation, partly formal, 
but now and again dropping into the old familiar 
modes of expression. About four o'clock the candle 
went out. Rodolphe was about to light another. 
217 



The Latin Quarter 

" No," said Mimi, "it is not worth while. It is 
time to sleep." 

And five minutes later her pretty brown head 
rested on the pillow, and in tender accents she 
invited Rodolphe's lips to press the little blue-veined 
hands, whose alabaster pallor rivalled the whiteness 
of the bed drapery. Rodolphe did not light the 
candle. 

The next morning it was Rodolphe who first rose, 
and pointing to the packages, said to Mimi very 
gently, "Those are the things belonging to you. 
You can take them. I keep my word." 

" Oh ! " said Mimi, " I am very tired, you see, and 
I could not carry away those big parcels all at once. 
I would rather come back for them." And as she 
was dressed she took only a collarette and a pair of 
cuffs. 

"I will take away the rest a little at a time," 
she said, smiling. 

"No," said Rodolphe. "Take away all, or take 
away nothing. This must finish." 

" On the contrary, let it begin and last for ever," 
said Mimi, embracing Rodolphe. 

After breakfasting together, they started to go 
into the country. In crossing the Luxembourg, 
Rodolphe met a famous poet, who had always 
received him with charming kindness. Accord- 
ing to usage Rodolphe made a pretence of not 
seeing him, but the poet did not give him time 
for that ; he greeted him with a friendly gesture, 
and saluted his young companion with a gracious 
smile. 

" Who was that gentleman? " asked Mimi. 
218 



Mademoiselle Mimi 

Rodolphe answered with a name that brought a 
flush of delight and pride to her cheeks. 

"Oh," said Rodolphe, "this meeting with a poet 
who sings so enchantingly of love is a good augury 
and will bring good luck to our reconciliation." 

"I love you. There," said Mimi, squeezing her 
lover's hand, although they were in the middle of 
the crowded ways. 

" Alas ! " meditated Rodolphe, " which is better- 
to let one's self be deceived by having believed, or 
never to believe for fear of being always deceived? " 



219 



XV 

DONEC GRATUS . . . 

IT has been related how the painter Marcel made 
the acquaintance of Mile. Musette. United 
one day by Caprice, who is the mayor of their 
district, they had imagined that, after the ordi- 
nary course of such things, their intimacy could 
end upon the basis of the same law. But one 
evening, after a violent quarrel, which decided 
them to break off instantly and for ever, they found 
that their hands, meeting in final adieu, would not 
separate. Fancy, almost without their being con- 
scious of it, had become love. They both admitted 
it half-laughingly. 

"This," said Marcel, " is a very serious matter. 
How the deuce have we done it ? " 

"Oh," replied Musette, "we are dunderheads ! 
We have not taken proper precaution." 

"What is up ! " inquired Rodolphe, whose rooms 
now neighboured Marcel's, as he chanced to look in. 

"This has happened," said Marcel, pointing to 
Musette, "she and I have just made a grand 
discovery. We are in love with each other. It 
must have happened while we were asleep." 

"Oh! Ah! Asleep. No, I don't think so," said 
Rodolphe. " But where is the proof that you do love 
each other? Perhaps you exaggerate the danger." 
220 



Donee Gratus . . . 

"Good heavens! No," replied Marcel. "We 
cannot endure one another." 

"And we cannot leave each other," added 
Musette. 

" Then, my children, the matter is clear. Wanting 
to play to the very end, you have both lost. It is 
simply my story over again with Mimi. It is a 
subject for endless discussion. By this system it is 
that the perpetuity of marriage has become an 
institution. Unite a yes with a no, and you have 
a Philemon and Baucis household ; your home will 
be a pendant to mine, and if Schaunard and 
Phemie are coming here to live, as they threaten, our 
trio of establishments will form a very agreeable 
whole." 

At this moment Gustave Colline entered. He was 
informed of the accident which had befallen Musette 
and Marcel. 

"Well, philosopher," said Marcel, "what do 
you think of it ? " 

Colline smoothed the nap of the hat which was 
as good as a roof to him, and murmured, "I was 
sure of it ; love is a game of chance in which there 
is plenty of excitement. It is not good for man to 
be alone." 

In the evening when Rodolphe came home, he 
said to Mimi, " There is news ; Musette is madly in 
love with Marcel, and won't leave him." 

" Poor girl ! " replied Mimi, " and she had such a 
good appetite." 

" And on his side Marcel is smitten with Musette. 
He adores her 'thirty-six carat,' as that Colline 
calls it." 

221 



The Latin Quarter 

"Poor fellow!" said Mimi, "and so jealous as 
he is." 

"Quite true," said Rodolphe. "He and I are 
pupils of Othello." 

A little while after Schaunard and Phe"mie set up 
their domesticities close by. From that day forward 
the other lodgers of the house slept upon such a 
volcano that at the end of their term they sent the 
landlord notice to quit. 

Few days passed, in fact, on which a storm did not 
burst in one or other of the establishments. Now 
it was Mimi and Rodolphe, who, having exhausted 
their speaking powers, explained the rest by any 
household projectiles chancing to be at hand. Most 
frequently it was Schaunard, who emphasised his 
remarks to the melancholy Phe"mie with the end of 
a cane. As for Marcel and Musette, their discus- 
sions were conducted in the silence of closed doors ; 
they, at all events, took the precaution of shutting 
their doors and windows. 

If by chance peace did reign in the several estab- 
lishments, the other lodgers of the place did not 
find their sufferings lessened by the transient 
concord. The indiscretions of the partition walls 
permitted all the secrets of the Bohemian household 
management to penetrate them, initiating them in 
spite of themselves into its mysteries ; and more 
than one neighbour preferred a casus belli to rati- 
fications of treaties of peace. 

It was, in fact, a singular existence which the 
Bohemians led for the next six months. The most 
loyal fraternity was observed by them. All was in 
common, and scrupulously shared, good or ill as 

fortune might send. 

222 



Donee Gratus . . . 

There were certain days of magnificence, upon 
which none of them went down into the street 
without gloves ; red-letter occasions, when they 
dined all day. There were other times when they 
went almost without boots or shoes, Lenten days 
these, when after going breakfastless, they did not 
dine together, or, at all events, only succeeded by 
economical combinations in creating one of those 
repasts at which plates and dishes, as Mimi said, 
" took a holiday." 

But strange to say that in this society, which 
included, at all events, three young and pretty women, 
no discord ever broke out among the men. They 
bent often to the most futile caprices of their 
mistresses, but not one of them would have hesi- 
tated between the girl and the friend. 

Love is the child of spontaneity. It is an impro- 
visation. Friendship, on the contrary, is built up 
so to speak of a sentiment that moves with circum- 
spection ; it is the egoism of the mind, while love 
is the egoism of the heart. 

The Bohemians had known one another for six 
years. This long period, passed in daily intimacy 
without altering the strongly defined individuality of 
each one of them, had bound them in an accordance 
of ideas and a unity which they would have vainly 
sought elsewhere. They had their own manners 
and customs and modes of expression, of which 
strangers would not have known where to find the 
key. Those who did not properly know them called 
their free-going ways cynicism. It was, in fact, 
simply frankness. Their spirits, restive against all 
constraint, hated the false and held the common- 
223 



The Latin Quarter 

place in contempt. Accused of exaggerated vanities, 
they retorted by proudly proclaiming the programme 
of their ambition, and having the consciousness of 
their worth, they did not abuse it. 

During the many years that they had walked 
together in the same paths they had often of ne- 
cessity been placed in rivalry ; but they had never 
broken their ties, and had passed over without 
heeding personal questions of self-respect every time 
that attempts had been made to disunite them. 
They, moreover, estimated exactly their own 
individual value ; and pride, which is the antidote of 
envy, protected them from all petty professional 
jealousies. 

After six months, however, of this life in common, 
an epidemic of divorce suddenly broke out among 
them. Schaunard inaugurated proceedings. One 
day he happened to notice that Phe"mie Teinturiere 
had one knee better made than the other, and as in 
the matter of sculpture he was an austere purist, he 
dismissed Phe"mie, making her a present of the cane 
with which he had been accustomed to emphasise 
his frequent observations, and then he went to live 
with a relative who offered him a home gratis. 

A fortnight after, Mimi left Rodolphe to take 
her place in the carriage of young Viscount Paul, 
formerly Carolus Barbemuche's pupil, who had 
promised her gowns as brilliant as the sun. 

After Mimi it was Musette who cleared off and re- 
joined with great state the aristocratic ranks of the 
gallant Society which she had quitted to follow 
Marcel. 

This separation took place without quarrel, or dis- 
224 



Donee Gratus . . . 

turbance, or premeditation. Born of a caprice which 
grew into love, another caprice severed the 
connection. 

One evening in carnival time, at the opera 
masked ball, whither she had gone with Marcel, 
Musette had for vis-a-vis a young man who had 
formerly paid her attentions. They recognised each 
other, and while dancing exchanged a few words 
together. Without perhaps intending it, while she 
was telling the young man of her present way of 
life, she allowed some regrets for the old life 
to pass her lips. When the quadrille finished, 
Musette made a mistake, and instead of giving her 
hand to Marcel her partner, she took the hand of 
her vis-a-vis, who led her away into the crowd 
and disappeared. 

Marcel, not a little uneasy, sought for her. After 
about an hour he found her leaning on the young 
man's arm ; she was leaving the opera coffee-room 
singing snatches of songs. At sight of Marcel, 
who was standing in a corner with crossed arms, 
she waved him adieu, calling, " I am coming back." 

" That is to say, ' Don't wait for me,' " translated 
Marcel. He was jealous, but he was logical, and 
knew Musette, therefore he did not wait for her ; 
he returned home with his heart big and an empty 
stomach. He sought in the cupboard for possible 
leavings for a supper. He found a morsel of 
granite - like bread and the skeleton of a sour 
herring. 

"I can't contend against truffles," thought he. 
"At all events, Musette will have had supper." 
And after passing the corner of his handkerchief 
q 225 



The Latin Quarter 

across his eyes, under pretence of wiping his 
mouth, he went to bed. 

Two days later Musette awoke in a rose-coloured 
boudoir, a blue brougham waited at her door, and 
all the fairies in the world requisitioned in her 
service brought their marvels to her feet. Musette 
was charming, and her early youth seemed to 
renew itself in this setting of elegancies. So she 
recommenced the old life, attended all the fetes, 
and regained her celebrity. She was talked of every- 
where in the byways of the Exchange and even 
in the parliamentary buffets. As for her new lover, 
Monsieur Alexis, he was an agreeable young man. 
Often he complained to Musette that she seemed 
a little careless and indifferent when he spoke to 
her of his love. Then Musette would gaze at him 
smilingly, pat his hands, and say 

"What is it you want, dearest? I stopped six 
months with a man who fed me on salad and soup, 
without butter, who dressed me in a print gown, 
and took me to the Od6on a great deal because 
he was not rich. As love costs nothing, and I was 
madly in love with this creature, we wasted a con- 
siderable amount of love, and there are only a few 
crumbs of it left. Pick them up. I don't hinder 
you. For the rest, I have not deceived you ; 
and if ribbons were not so dear I should still be 
with my painter. As to my heart, since a corset of 
eighty francs covers it, I cannot hear it beat very 
loudly, and I am almost afraid I must have left it in 
one of Marcel's drawers." 

The disappearance of the three Bohemian house- 
holds was the occasion of a fete in the house which 
226 



Donee Gratus . . . 

had contained them. In token of his satisfaction 
the landlord gave a grand dinner and the lodgers 
illuminated their windows. 

Rodolphe and Marcel now lived together. Each 
of them had selected a new divinity, whose names 
they were not even precisely certain of. Sometimes 
they talked of Mimi or of Musette, and it would 
suffice as a theme for the whole evening. They 
would recall their memories of the old life, and 
Musette's songs and Mimi's songs, and the sleepless 
nights, and the idle mornings, and the dream- 
dinners. 

One after the other they would recall, during these 
chats, those memories of the hours that had fled for 
ever, and they would usually end up by saying that, 
after all, they were glad to be together alone again 
with their feet on the fender, stirring the winter 
logs, smoking their pipes, and to have each of 
them a pretext for gossiping and saying aloud to 
the other what each only said in a whisper to 
himself when he was alone that they had greatly 
loved those creatures who had left them, taking 
with them the shreds of their youth, and it might 
be that they loved them still. 

One evening, as he was crossing the boulevard, 
Marcel saw a young woman a little distance off, 
who, as she descended from a cab, displayed an 
ankle that was the perfection of form and grace. 
The driver himself was fascinated with his fare. 

"Good heavens!" said Marcel, "that is a fine 
ankle. I should like to offer my arm. Let me see 
how can I manage it ? That's my business : it 
seems quite strange." 

227 



The Latin Quarter 

" Excuse me, madame," he said, approaching the 
unknown, whose face he had not as yet been able to 
catch a glimpse of, "you have not by chance found 
my handkerchief? " 

"Yes, monsieur," replied the young lady, "here 
it is." And she put into Marcel's hand a hand- 
kerchief she held. 

The artist staggered with astonishment. 

But suddenly a burst of laughter right in his face 
restored him to himself, for in the joyous fanfare he 
recognised the tones of his old love. 

It was Musette. 

"Ah!" cried she, "Monsieur Marcel is looking 
for adventures. What do you think of this one 
eh ? It doesn't lack drollery. " 

" I find it supportable," said Marcel. 

"What are you doing so late in this part of the 
world? " asked Musette. 

" I am going into this tomb," replied the artist, 
pointing to a little theatre of which he had the 
entre"e. 

"For the love of Art?" 

"No, for love of Laure. Now," said Marcel to 
himself, "that is a pretty little play upon words 
of double meaning. I will sell it to Colline. He 
is making a collection of them." 

"Who is Laure?" asked Musette, whose looks 
sparkled notes of interrogation. 

Marcel continued his disagreeable pleasantries. 

"I am pursuing a chimera who plays ingenues 
in this obscure place," and with a wave of his 
hand he indicated a dancer's dress. 

"You are very lively this evening," said Musette. 

" And you very curious," said Marcel. 
228 



Donee Gratus . . . 

" Speak lower. Everybody will hear us, and they 
will take us for lovers quarrelling." 

" It wouldn't be the first time such a thing had 
happened to us," said Marcel. 

Musette caught provocation in this phrase, and 
replied quickly 

" And perhaps it won't be the last eh ? " 

The meaning was obvious ; it hissed like a bullet 
into Marcel's ear. 

"Splendours of heaven!" said he, gazing up at 
the stars, " you are witnesses that it is not I who 
struck the first blow. My cuirass quick ! " 

The firing had begun. 

There was nothing more to be done than to find a 
convenient point of union for these two imaginations 
which had awakened so quickly. 

As they went along Musette looked at Marcel, 
and Marcel looked at Musette. They did not speak, 
but their eyes those ambassadors of the heart 
often met. At the end of a quarter of an hour 
of diplomacy this congress of looks had tacitly 
arranged the matter. It only remained to ratify it. 

The interrupted conversation was renewed. 

" Frankly," said Musette to Marcel, " where were 
you going just now ? " 

" I have told you. I was going to Laure." 

" Is she pretty?" 

" Her mouth is a nest of smiles." 

" I understand," said Musette. 

"But yourself," said Marcel, "whence come you 
on the wings of this cab ? " 

" I came from taking Alexis to the railway. He 
is going on a tour with his family." 
229 



The Latin Quarter 

"What sort of a fellow is Alexis? " 

In her turn Musette drew a taking portrait of 
her new lover. All the way they went Marcel and 
Musette continued in the open street to play this 
comedy of going back to the old love. 

In the same nai've key, now railing, now tender, 
they recited once more, strophe by strophe, the im- 
mortal ode in which Horace and Lydia extol so 
gracefully the delights of their renewed loves, 
and finish by adding a postscript to their former 
loves. As it happened, they reached the corner of 
the street just as a strong patrol tramped round it. 

Musette manufactured a little terrified attitude, 
and clinging to Marcel's arm, she cried 

" Oh, good heavens! Look! The troops are 
coming ! There is going to be another revolution. 
We must save ourselves. I am terribly frightened. 
Take me back ! " 

" But where are we going? " asked Marcel. 

" Home with me," said Musette. "You will see 
how pretty it is. I will give you some supper, and 
we will talk politics." 

"No," said Marcel, thinking of Monsieur Alexis, 
"I will not go to your house, in spite of supper. 
I don't like drinking my wine out of other people's 
glasses." 

Musette stood silent under this refusal. Then 
through the mists of memory she saw the poor 
artist's mean dwelling, for Marcel had not become a 
millionaire. And she had an idea, and profiting by 
the march past of another patrol, she manifested 
renewed terror. 

"They are going to fight!" she cried. "I can 
230 



Donee Gratus . . . 

never go back. Marcel, dear friend, take me to 
a friend of mine who should be living 1 near your 
house." 

As they crossed the Pont Neuf Musette burst out 
into a shout of laughter. 

" What is it? " asked Marcel. 

"Nothing," said Musette. "I remember now 
that my friend has gone away from this part. She 
lives in the Batignolles quarter." 

Seeing Marcel and Musette arrive arm in arm 
caused Rodolphe no astonishment. " Half-buried 
loves always end thus," he said. 



231 



XVI 

"THE PASSAGE OF THE RED SEA" 

FOR five or six years Marcel had worked at his 
famous picture, which he said represented " The 
Passage of the Red Sea," and for five or six years 
this masterpiece of colouring" had been persistently 
rejected by the judges. It had been taken so often 
to and fro between the artist's studio and the Muse~e 
that if it had been placed on wheels it would have 
rolled of itself to the Louvre. Marcel, who had 
altered detail and touched up the canvas a hundred 
times from top to bottom, ascribed the ostracism 
which annually banished him from the salons to per- 
sonal animosity on the part of the members of the 
council ; and at idle moments had composed a little 
dictionary of his injuries in honour of these Cerberuses 
of the Institute, illustrated with stingingly ferocious 
pictures. This work, which became generally cele- 
brated, was known in all the studios of the Beaux 
Arts, and had attained to the popularity which 
attaches to the immortal complaint of Jean Belin, 
painter in ordinary to the Grand Sultan of the 
Turks. All the students of the brush in Paris had 
scraps of it stored in their memory. 

For a long time Marcel was not discouraged by 
these irritating refusals met with at each exhibition ; 
232 



"The Passage of the Red Sea" 

he was comfortably convinced in his own opinion 
that his picture was, in the degree of its smaller 
proportions, the pendant long- waited for by " The 
Marriage of Cana," that gigantic masterpiece whose 
brilliant splendour the dust of three centuries has 
been unable to dim. Every year, therefore, before 
the opening of the Salon, Marcel submitted his 
picture to the examination of the committee. Only, 
in order to nonplus them and to try and make 
them trip in their prejudiced exclusion of "The 
Passage of the Red Sea," Marcel, without altering 
any important part of the general composition, 
modified some detail of it and changed its title. 

Thus one year it appeared before the jury under 
the name of " Crossing the Rubicon," but Pharaoh, 
poorly disguised under Cesar's mantle, was recog- 
nised, and repulsed with all due honours. 

The following year Marcel threw a coating of 
white on the surfaces of his canvas to simulate 
snow, put a fir tree in the corner, and clothing an 
Egyptian in the uniform of the Imperial Guard, 
christened his picture "The Passage of the 
Be"re"sina." 

The jury, having now rubbed their spectacles upon 
the cuffs of their olive-green coats, were not duped 
by this fresh device. They perfectly well recognised 
the obstinate canvas, mainly by a huge brute of a 
multi-coloured horse which stood rearing high on his 
hind legs in the middle of a wave of the Red Sea. 
The trappings of this animal had afforded Marcel an 
opportunity for all his skill in colouring, and in his 
own phrasing he called the picture a synopsis of fine 
tones, because with its play of light and shade it 
233 



The Latin Quarter 

offered endless combinations of colour. But once 
again, insensible to these details, the jury could not 
find black balls enough to refuse "The Passage of 
the Berdsina." 

"Very good," said Marcel, "I will wait. Next 
year I will send it again under the title of ' The 
Passage of the Panoramas.' ' 

"They will be trapped, trapped, trapped, 
trapped ! " chanted the musician Schaunard to a 
new air of his own composition, an air as terri- 
ble and deafening as a gamut of thunder peals, 
so that it was dreaded by all the neighbouring 
pianos. 

"How can they refuse that without all the vermilion 
of the Red Sea mounting to their faces and covering 
them with shame ? " murmured Marcel, contemplat- 
ing his picture. " When one thinks, there is a hun- 
dred crowns' worth of colour in it, and a million of 
genius, without reckoning my glorious youth, which 
has become as worn as my hat over it a serious 
work, opening up new horizons to the science of 
colour! But they haven't had the last of it. To 
my latest breath I will go on sending that picture ! 
I want to engrave it on their memory." 

"That is the surest manner not to engrave it," 
said Gustave Colline, plaintively adding to himself, 
"That is a good mot, a very good one. I will 
repeat it in the clubs." 

Marcel continued his objurgations, which Schau- 
nard continued to set to music. 

"Ah! they won't accept me," said Marcel. 
" Government pays them, houses them, gives them 
decorations, with the express object, one might say, 
234 



" The Passage of the Red Sea " 

of refusing- me once a year the first of March, that 
is a canvas in a hundred, mounted in a key-pattern 
frame. I distinctly see their intention ; I see it 
clearly. They would like me to break my brushes. 
They hope, perhaps, in refusing- my ' Red Sea ' that 
it will drive me to throw myself out of the window 
in despair. But they are very ignorant of the human 
heart if they count on snuffing me out in that vulgar 
fashion. I shall not wait any longer, however, for 
the Salon season to come round. From this day 
forward my work shall become a Damocles' sword 
perpetually hanging over their heads. Every week I 
will send it to each of them to their homes, into 
the bosom of their families, straight to the heart 
of their private life. It shall trouble their domestic 
joys. They shall find their wine like vinegar, their 
meat scorched, their wives ill-tempered. They shall 
very soon go mad, and be put in strait-waistcoats 
for the meetings of the Institute. The idea of that 
pleases me immensely." 

Some days later, and when Marcel had already 
forgotten his vengeful designs against his op- 
pressors, he received a visit from old M^decis. 
This was a name given by the Bohemians to a Jew 
called Solomon, who was well known at that time 
to the whole circle of Bohemian artists and literary 
men, and was in constant relations with them. 
Old Mddecis dealt in all kinds of bric-a-brac. 
He sold complete suites of furniture from twelve 
francs to a thousand crowns. He bought anything 
and everything, and sold it at a big profit. Monsieur 
Proudhon's bank of exchange is a small thing in 
comparison with the system which was worked by 
235 



The Latin Quarter 

Me"decis, who possessed trafficking genius to a 
degree which the most skilful of his tribe had never 
before attained. His shop, situated in the Place 
du Carrousel, was a fairy treasure-house, where one 
could find everything one wanted. All the products 
of nature, all the creations of art, everything that 
the depths of the earth or human genius can pro- 
duce, Medecis did business in. His trade touched 
every conceivable article, absolutely every existing 
thing. He did business even with the ideal. He 
purchased ideas for the purpose of employing them 
himself or for selling again. Known by all the 
men of letters and all the artists, intimate with the 
palette, and familiar with productions of the pen, 
he was the Asmodeus of the Arts. He would barter 
you cigars for a magazine article, a pair of slippers 
for a sonnet, fresh fish for paradoxes. He would 
gossip for hours with journalists whose vocation it 
was to record the doings and follies of the world ; 
he would procure you places in Parliament and 
invitations to special soirees; he gave lodging by the 
night, by the week, or by the month to outcast 
daubers who paid him in copies of the great masters 
made at the Louvre. There were no mysteries behind 
the scenes for him. He would get pieces accepted 
at the theatres. He would obtain your free admit- 
tance. He had in his head the addresses and names 
and secrets of all the celebrities even to the less 
known ones. 

A few pages copied at random from his business 
books will, however, better give an idea of the 
universality of his business transactions than all the 
descriptions : 

236 



" The Passage of the Red Sea " 

"20/A March, 184 

"Sold to M. L , antiquary, the compass which Archi- 
medes used during the Siege of Syracuse, 75 francs. 

" Bought of M. V , journalist, the complete works 

(uncut) of M. , member of the Academy, 10 fr. 

"Sold to the same a critical article on the complete works of 
M. , member of the Academy, 30 fr. 

" Sold to M. , member of the Academy, an article of 12 

columns on his complete works, 250 fr. 

"Bought of M. R , man of letters, a critical apprecia- 
tion of the complete works of M. , of the Academy, 10 fr., 

two hundredweight of coal, and 2 kilog. of coffee. 

" Sold to M. a porcelain vase formerly belonging to 

Madame du Barry, 18 fr. 

" Bought of little D her hair, 15 fr. 

"Bought of M. B a lot of articles on the manners and 

the three last errors in orthography made by the Prefect of 
the Seine, 6 fr. ; also a pair of Neapolitan shoes. 

"Sold to Mademoiselle O a blonde wig, 120 fr. 

"Bought of M. M , historical painter, a series of comic 

drawings, 25 fr. 

" Indicated to M. Ferdinand the hour at which Madame la 

baronne R. de P goes to Mass. Likewise let for a day 

the little ground floor in the Faubourg Montmartre. In all, 
30 fr. 

"Sold to M. Isidore his portrait as Apollo, 30 fr. 

"Sold to Mademoiselle R a couple of lobsters and six 

pairs of gloves, 36 fr. (Received on account, 2 fr. 75 c.) 

"At the same time obtained credit of six months of Madame 
, milliner. (Price to be arranged.) 

" Procured for Madame , milliner, the custom of Made- 
moiselle R . (Received for this three yards of velvet and 

six yards of lace.) 

"Bought of M. R , literary man, a bill of 120 fr. upon 

the newspaper now in liquidation, 5 fr. ; also two pounds 

of Moravian tobacco. 

"Sold to M. Ferdinand two love-letters, 12 fr. 

" Bought of M. J , artist, the portrait of M. Isidore as 

Apollo, 6 fr. 

" Sold to M. 75 kilog. of his work entitled " Submarine 

Revolutions," 15 fr. 

237 



The Latin Quarter 

" Let on hire to Madame la Comtesse de G Saxony 

china service, 20 fr. 

" Bought of M. , journalist, 52 lines in his ' Courier of 

Paris/ 100 fr. ; also a chimney-piece ornament. 

" Sold to M. M. O and Co. 52 lines in the ' Courier of 

Paris ' by M. 300 fr. ; also a chimney-piece ornament. 

"To Mademoiselle S. G , let on hire a bed and a 

brougham for a day (nothing"). (See the accounts of Made- 
moiselle S. G , long ledger, folios 26 and 27.) 

"Sold to M. Gustave C. a pamphlet on the Linen Industry, 
50 fr. ; also a rare edition of the works of Flavius Josephus. 

" To Mademoiselle S. G sold a piece of modern furni- 
ture, 5,000 fr. 

" For the same paid chemist 75 fr. 

"Id. Paid note to creamery, 3 fr. 85 c.," etc., etc., etc. 

These selections will show on what an immense 
scale the operations of the Jew Me"decis were con- 
ducted ; and in spite of the shadiness of some of 
his widely eclectic transactions, he had never been 
interfered with or annoyed by anybody. 

Looking in one day upon the Bohemians with the 
brisk, animated air which distinguished him, the 
Jew saw that he had come at an opportune moment. 
The four friends were, in fact, engaged in grave con- 
sultation under the presidency of a voracious appetite, 
discussing the solemn question of bread and meat. 
It was Sunday, the end of the month fatal and 
sinister time ! 

The entrance, therefore, of Me"decis was welcomed 
by a joyful chorus. They knew that the Jew set too 
much store by his time to spend it in mere compli- 
mentary visits, and his coming unmistakably inti- 
mated that he was prepared to do business. 

" Good evening, gentlemen," said the Jew. " How 
are you ? " 

238 



CC 



The Passage of the Red Sea 



"Colline," said Rodolphe, who was stretched on 
his bed in lazy enjoyment of his horizontal position, 
"do the hospitable; offer our guest a chair. A 
guest is sacred. I salute you in Abraham's name," 
added the poet. 

Colline dragged forward a chair, which had about 
as much elasticity as bronze, and offered it to the 
Jew, saying in a hospitable voice, "You must 
imagine for the moment that you are Cinna, and 
take this chair." 

As M6decis let himself drop into the chair, he was 
just going to complain of its hardness when he re- 
membered that it was an exchange of his own with 
Colline against a profession of faith sold to a deputy 
who had not the gift of improvisation. As he sat 
down the Jew's pockets resounded metallically, and 
the music of it plunged the Bohemians into a sweet 
and agreeable reverie. 

"Let us see what the tune is going to be," said 
Rodolphe in an undertone to Marcel; "the accom- 
paniment seems pretty." 

" Monsieur Marcel," said Me"decis, " I have come 
simply to make your fortune. That is to say, that 
I come to offer you a splendid opportunity for enter- 
ing into the artistic world. Art, you know very well, 
Monsieur Marcel, is a desert, of which glory is the 
oasis." 

"Old Me"decis," said Marcel, on tenter hooks of 
impatience, "in the name of fifty per cent., your 
venerated patron, be brief." 

"Yes," said Colline, "like King Pe"pin. Be as 
short a man as he, O son of Manasseh." 

" Oh ! Oh ! Oh ! " cried the Bohemians, looking 
239 



The Latin Quarter 

for the floor to open and swallow up the phil- 
osopher. 

But Colline was not engulfed this time. 

"This is how it is, then," replied Medecis. "A 
rich amateur, who is collecting for a gallery which 
is to make the tour of Europe, has commissioned 
me to procure for him a series of remarkable pictures. 
I have come to offer you entry to this museum of 
his. In a word, I have come to buy your ' Passage 
of the Red Sea.'" 

"Ready money? " said Marcel. 

"Ready money," replied the Jew, tuning up the 
orchestra in his pockets. 

" For the red-dy Sea? " ventured Colline. 

"Without a doubt," said Rodolphe fiercely, " we 
shall have to gag your mouth if you will keep on 
talking such absurdities. Idiot, don't you hear he 
is talking of money? Is there nothing sacred to 
you, Atheist?" 

Colline mounted on a stool and assumed the pose 
of Harpocrates, god of silence. 

"Go on, Mddecis," said Marcel, uncovering his 
picture. " I should wish to leave to you the honour 
of fixing the price of this priceless work." 

The Jew counted out on the table fifty crowns in 
bright new silver money. 

"And after?" said Marcel. "This being the 
vanguard " 

"Monsieur Marcel," said Medecis, "you know 
very well that my first word is always my last. I 
shall give no more. Reflect, fifty crowns, that is 
one hundred and fifty francs. It is a considerable 
sum." 

240 



" The Passage of the Red Sea " 

"A poor amount," replied the artist. " In my 
Pharaoh's robes alone there is fifty crowns' worth 
of cobalt. Pay me in a decent way. Make the piles 
even. Make it an even sum, and I will call you 
Leo the Tenth, Leo X. the Second." 

"I have said my last word," replied Medecis. 
" I won't give a sou more, but I will give you all a 
dinner the wine at your own choice, and for dessert 
I pay in gold." 

" No one speaks? " shouted Colline, striking three 
blows with his fist on the table. " Gone ! " 

''Come, then," said Marcel, "that is settled." 

" I will send for the picture to-morrow," said the 
Jew. " Let us be going now, gentlemen. The cloth 
is laid." 

The four friends descended the staircase singing 
the chorus from the Huguenots "Come, let us 
dine." 

Medecis treated the Bohemians in magnificent 
fashion. He offered them all sorts of things which 
hitherto were unknown quantities to them. From 
the date of that dinner lobster and Schaunard had 
more than the old bowing acquaintance, and he 
conceived a passion for the amphibian which verged 
on delirium. 

The four friends departed from the scene of the 
feast drunk as labourers at vintage time, a 
circumstance which nearly had most disastrous 
consequences for Marcel, who, passing by his 
tailor's door at two o'clock in the morning, 
absolutely wanted to waken his creditor to pay 
him on account the hundred and fifty francs he 
had received, and a glimmer of reason still alive 
R 241 



The Latin Quarter 

in Colline's brain held the artist back from this 
suicidal act. 

About a week after this festival Marcel learned in 
what gallery his picture had found a place. Passing- 
down the Faubourg St. Honore", he joined a group 
which was watching with immense interest and 
curiosity the fixing of a sign above a shop door. 
This sign was no other than Marcel's picture, sold 
by Mddecis to a provision dealer, only "The 
Passage of the Red Sea " had undergone another 
modification, and bore another title. A steam- 
boat had been introduced, and it was called "The 
Port of Marseilles." A most flattering ovation rose 
from the onlookers when they got full view of the 
picture. Marcel, too, was enchanted with his 
triumph, and murmured as he passed on, "The 
voice of the people is the voice of God." 



242 



XVII 
THE TOILETTE OF THE GRACES 

TV IT ADEMOISELLE MIMI, whose custom it was 
IV J. to sleep till about midday, woke one morn- 
ing" on the stroke of ten and was much astonished 
at not finding Rodolphe beside her, nor even in 
the room. On the previous evening before she fell 
asleep she had seen him settle himself at his desk 
in order to spend the night upon a special piece of 
literary work for which he had received a commission. 
It had peculiar interest for Mimi, inasmuch as the 
poet had promised her a certain splendid piece of stuff 
for a gown which she had seen in the windows of 
" The Two Monkeys," a draper's shop famous for the 
novelties displayed in its windows, in front of which 
Mimi spent many a devout moment. Since therefore 
the work in question had begun, Mimi had watched 
its progress with great anxiety. She was constantly 
coming up beside Rodolphe as he wrote, and, laying 
her head on his shoulder, she would say in grave 
tones 

" And my gown how is it getting on ? " 
" It has one sleeve already. Be calm," would be 
Rodolphe's answer. 

One night, having heard Rodolphe snap his 
fingers, which was a way he had when he was 
pleased with his labours, Mimi sat up briskly in bed, 
243 



The Latin Quarter 

and cried as she put her brown head through the 
curtains 

"Is my dress done?" 

"See," said Rodolphe, showing her four huge 
sheets of paper covered with closely written lines, 
" I have finished the bodice." 

"How delightful!" cried Mimi. "There is no- 
thing left now but the skirt. How many pages 
like that will it take to make the skirt? " 

"That is according to detail. But you are not 
big. A dozen pages with fifty lines of thirty-three 
letters can make a respectable skirt, I think." 

"I am not big, it is true," said Mimi in serious 
tones, "but it will not do to skimp the material; 
gowns are worn very full now, and I want close 
gathers, so that it will make plenty of frou- 
frou." 

"All right," gravely said Rodolphe. "I will 
put ten letters more in a line, and that will secure 
the frou-frou. " 

And Mimi slept in peace. 

As she had committed the imprudence of talking 
with her friends Musette and Phe"mie about the 
grand gown Rodolphe had on the way for her, 
the two had not failed to inform Marcel and 
Schaunard of their friend's generosity to his sweet- 
heart, and the communication had been followed by 
incitements of no equivocal kind to follow the 
poet's example. 

"That is to say," added Musette, giving a tug at 
Marcel's moustache, "that if things go on a week 
longer in this fashion, I shall be obliged to borrow 
a pair of trousers to go out in." 
244 



The Toilette of the Graces 

"There are twelve francs owing to me from a 
safe source, and if I get it I will dedicate it to the 
purchase of a vine leaf a la mode." 

"And I," said Phemie, "my dressing-gown is 
falling to pieces." 

Schaunard drew three sous from his pocket and 
gave them to his sweetheart, saying 

"There is something to buy needles and thread 
with. Mend your dressing-gown. You will find it 
at once instructive and amusing. Utile dulci" 

Nevertheless, in a very secret cabinet council 
Marcel and Schaunard arranged with Rodolphe that 
each of them should satisfy these requirements of 
their sweethearts. 

"These poor girls!" Rodolphe said. "Trifles 
please them, and they ought to have the trifles. 
For some time now the fine arts and literature have 
been going really strong with us, we are making 
almost as much as the dealers." 

"It is quite true that I can't complain," put in 
Marcel. "The fine arts are flourishing splendidly 
with me ; one might imagine the days of Leo X. 
come again." 

"Yet," said Rodolphe, "Musette tells me that 
you go out early and that you never get home 
again till eight o'clock at night. Are you really 
busy?" 

"My dear fellow, yes on a splendid thing 
Medicis has obtained for me. I am doing por- 
traits at the Ave Maria Barracks. Eighteen 
grenadiers who want their portraits taken one 
with the other, six francs apiece, the likeness 
guaranteed for a year, as watches are. I hope 
245 



The Latin Quarter 

to get the whole regiment. I have an idea, too, 
of rigging out Musette when Medicis has paid me, 
for it is with him I have the contract not with 
the grenadiers themselves." 

" As for me," carelessly said Schaunard, "al- 
though it is not generally known, I have two 
hundred francs sleeping." 

" Heavens above ! Wake them up " began 

Rodolphe. 

"In two or three days I shall lay hands on it," 
continued Schaunard. "When I draw it I do not 
conceal from you that I intend to give free course 
to some of my inclinations. At the old clothes 
dealer's down the street there is a nankeen suit 
and a hunting-horn which have stared me in the 
face this long time, and I mean to make them 
mine." 

"But," demanded Marcel and Rodolphe, "from 
what source do you draw this huge capital? " 

"Listen, gentlemen," said Schaunard, assuming 
an air of great solemnity and seating himself 
between his two friends, "we cannot conceal from 
ourselves that before becoming members of the 
Institute and taxpayers we have not a little rye- 
bread to eat, and daily bread is hard to knead. 
Besides, we are not alone now. Seeing that Heaven 
has given us sensibilities, each one of us has selected 
a partner, with whom he shares his lot 

"Adorned with a herring," interrupted Marcel. 

" Now," continued Schaunard, " while living with 
the strictest economy, when one possesses nothing, 
it is difficult to put by, especially if one has an 
appetite bigger than one's plate." 
246 



The Toilette of the Graces 

"What are you driving at? "demanded Rodolphe. 

"At this," continued Schaunard, "that taking 
actual facts into consideration, we should all be 
wrong to give ourselves airs when even outside 
the limits of our art the opportunity presents itself 
of putting a figure before the zero which at present 
is the basis of our social position." 

"Very well," said Marcel. "And which of us 
can you accuse of giving himself airs? Great 
painter as I shall one day be, have I not consented 
to devote my brush to a pictorial reproduction of 
French warriors who pay me with their pocket- 
money? It appears to me that I am not afraid of 
descending the ladder of my future greatness." 

"And I," said Rodolphe, "are you aware that 
for the last fortnight I have been composing a 
didactic poem, medico-surgical-dental, for a cele- 
brated dentist, who subsidises my inspiration at the 
rate of fifteen sous the dozen Alexandrines, a little 
higher price than oysters fetch? Yet I do not 
blush at it. Sooner than see my muse idle I 
would make her put the whole Paris Directory 
into metrical form. When one has a lyre devil 
take it is it not for use? And Mimi is always 
wanting new boots." 

"Then," said Schaunard, "you wll enter into 
the spirit of my following the source whence the 
Pactolus issues, whose influx I am expecting." 

This is the history of Schaunard's two hundred 
francs. About a fortnight earlier he had gone into 
a music publisher's who had promised to find for 
him among his customers music and harmony 
lessons. 

247 



The Latin Quarter 

"Well, really now," said the publisher as he 
had entered, "you come just in the nick of time! 
Someone has been here to-day asking me for a 
pianist. He is an Englishman. I think he would 
pay well. Are you really expert ? " 

Schaunard thought that modesty would do him 
harm in the publisher's estimation. For a musician, 
and above all a pianist, to be modest is such a 
great rarity. Schaunard therefore replied, with any 
amount of confidence 

"Am I first-class? If only I had now a delicate 
lung, long hair and a black coat, I should be as 
celebrated as the sun, and instead of asking me 
eight hundred francs as my share for printing * The 
Death of the Young Girl,' you would offer me three 
thousand on a silver salver. It is certain enough," 
continued the artist, "that my ten fingers having had 
ten years of hard labour on the five octaves, I can 
manipulate the sharps and flats very thoroughly." 

The person to whom Schaunard was directed to 
apply was an Englishman named Mr. Birn. The 
musician, when he called, was first received by 
a blue man-servant, who passed him on to a green 
one, who again handed him on to one in black. 
This individual ushered him into a drawing-room, 
where he found himself in the presence of a 
Britisher who was striking a splenetic attitude 
suggestive of Hamlet meditating on the littleness 
of humanity. Schaunard was about to explain the 
occasion of his coming when a storm of piercing 
shrieks was heard, and drowned his utterance. 
This frightful noise, which almost broke the drum 
of his ears, was perpetrated by a paroquet who 
248 



The Toilette of the Graces 

was chained to a perch on the balcony of the floor 
beneath. 

" Oh, the beast ! the beast ! the beast ! " growled 
the Englishman, starting up in his armchair. " It 
will be the death of me." 

At the same moment the bird commenced to de- 
liver its repertoire, which was extraordinarily long, 
and Schaunard stood astounded when he heard the 
creature, encouraged by a feminine voice, begin 
to declaim the opening verses of the speech of 
The'ramene with the intonation of the Conserva- 
toire. 

This paroquet was the pet of a famous actress, 
and lived in her boudoir. She was one of the 
women who one knows not why or wherefore 
are priced at an absurd figure in the lists of 
gallantry, and whose names are inscribed on the 
menus of wealthy supper-givers, where they are 
served up as living dessert. 

In these days it is a mark of distinction for a 
Christian to be seen with one of these pagan 
women, who have nothing of the antique about 
them but the day of their birth. When they are 
handsome, it is perhaps no great matter ; the most 
one risks is the chance of having to sleep on straw 
for putting them to sleep on rosewood. But when 
their beauty is bought by the ounce at the perfumer's, 
and three drops of water on a handkerchief can 
destroy it when their wit is enshrined in Vaudeville 
couplets, and their talent is held in a claqueur's hand, 
one finds it difficult to comprehend how persons of 
distinction having something of a name, common 
sense, and any knowledge of the world, can allow 
249 



The Latin Quarter 

themselves to yield to such banality as exalting and 
humouring the caprices of creatures of whom valets 
would not make sweethearts. 

The actress in question was one of these beauties 
of the moment. She was called Dolores, and said 
she was a Spaniard, though she was born in the 
Parisian Andalusia known as the Rue Coquenard. 
Although it was not ten minutes' walk from the Rue 
Coquenard to the Rue de Provence, she had not 
taken it for eight years. Her prosperity had 
begun at the same time as her personal falling 
off. Thus on the day of her first false tooth she 
had a horse, and two horses when a second tooth 
was in requisition. In fact, she lived in great 
style. Her apartments were palatial. She figured 
at Longchamps and gave balls at which all Paris 
was present the Paris of these ladies. That is to 
say, the band of idle courtesans, of all that was 
scandalous and frivolous ; the players of lansquenet 
and of absurdities ; the do-nothings with brain or 
hand, killers of their own time and of that of others ; 
scribblers who pose as men of letters, airing the 
feathers nature has clothed them in ; the bravos 
of debauch, shady gentlemen, titled individuals of 
mysterious orders, all the habitue's of Bohemia, come 
whence no one knows and returning thither ; all the 
noted and unnoted, all the daughters of Eve who 
once sold the maternal fruit in baskets, and who 
now sell it in boudoirs ; all the corrupt race from the 
swaddling clothes to the winding-sheet, which is to 
be seen at first nights with Golconda on its forehead 
and Thibet on its shoulders, and for whom the first 
spring violets bloom and the first loves of youth. 
250 



The Toilette of the Graces 

All the world that the papers call Paris frequented 
the house of Mile. Dolores, the mistress of the 
paroquet in question. 

This bird, whose oratorical gifts had rendered it 
celebrated far and near, had become the terror of 
the nearer neighbours. From its perch in the 
balcony it kept up its interminable chatter from 
morning till night. Some journalists of his mis- 
tress's acquaintance had taught him certain parlia- 
mentary forms of expression. The creature waxed 
extremely eloquent on the question of sugar. He 
knew by heart the actress's repertoire and declaimed 
it in such a manner that he might have been her 
understudy in the event of her indisposition. More- 
over, as she was polyglot in sentiment, and received 
visits from every corner of the world, the paroquet 
spoke all languages and indulged in idiomatic blas- 
phemies which would have brought blushes to the 
very cheeks of the sailors who had conducted the 
education of Vert-vert to such a point of complete- 
ness. The society of this bird, who could be instruc- 
tive and agreeable for the space of some, ten minutes, 
became a veritable purgatory when it was pro- 
longed. 

The neighbours had frequently complained, but 
the actress had insolently ignored or put their com- 
plaints to silence. Two or three householders, 
worthy fathers of families, indignant and scandalised 
at the reference to loose living indulged in by the 
paroquet, had given notice to quit. But the actress 
knew the landlord's weak point. 

The Englishman upon whom Schaunard was 
calling had been patient for three months. One 
251 



The Latin Quarter 

day, concealing his wrath, which was now at burst- 
ing point, under a magnificent uniform which he had 
worn when presented to Queen Victoria at a levee 
at Windsor, he made a call on Mile. Dolores. 

On seeing him enter she thought at first that it 
was Hoffmann in his costume of Lord Spleen, and 
wishing to be civil to one of the profession, she 
invited him to remain to breakfast. The English- 
man gravely replied in the " French tongue in 
twenty-five lessons," in which a Spanish refugee had 
instructed him. 

" I will accept your invitation on condition that 
we eat this bird disagreeable," and he pointed to 
the cage of the paroquet, who having already scented 
out a foreigner from the British Isles, saluted him 
by screaming out, " God save the Queen ! " 

Dolores thought that her neighbour had come to 
insult her, and was disposed to be angry, when he 
added 

"As I am very rich, I can put a price on the 
beast?" 

Dolores replied that she would stick to her bird, 
and had no intention of allowing it to pass into 
other hands. 

"Oh, I don't want it to pass into my hands," 
replied the Englishman, " I want it under my 
feet," and he displayed the heel of his boot. 

Dolores trembled with indignation, and was about 
to give vent to it, when she perceived on the 
visitor's finger a ring set with a diamond worth 
perhaps a couple of thousand francs or more. The 
discovery acted like a douche of cold water on the 
flames of her anger. She reflected that it might be 
252 




The Toilette of the Graces 

imprudent to be annoyed with a man who had such 
an amount on his little finger. 

"Well, monsieur," she said, " since poor Coco is 
troublesome to you, I will put him elsewhere, in 
some place where you cannot hear him." 

The Englishman made a gesture of satisfaction. 
" I should, however," he added, again showing his 
boot, "have much preferred 

( ( Do not be afraid," said Dolores, "in the place 
where I shall put him, it will be impossible for him 
to annoy milord 

" Oh, I am not a milord. I am simply esquire." 

But just at the very moment that Mr. Birn was 
about to retire, after saluting the lady with a 
very modest bow, Dolores, who never neglected her 
own interests, took a little packet from a side-table, 
and said to the Englishman 

" Monsieur, they are giving to-night at the theatre 
a performance for my benefit, and I am going to 
play in three pieces. Will you allov^ me to offer 
you some box-tickets ? The price of places has been 
only a little raised," and she put ten tickets into her 
visitor's hands. 

" After my showing myself so ready to be agree- 
able to him," thought she, " if he has been decently 
brought up it will be impossible for him to refuse 
me, and if he sees me play in my rose pink costume, 
who knows ? Between neighbours ! The diamond he 
has on his finger may be the vanguard of a million. 
Gracious ! He is very ugly, he is very gloomy, but it 
may afford me the opportunity of going to London 
without being sea-sick." 

The Englishman, after taking the tickets, made 
253 



The Latin Quarter 

her explain their use to him once more. Then he 
asked the price of them. 

"The boxes are sixty francs. There are ten. 
But there is no need to pay now," added Dolores, 
seeing the Englishman feeling for his purse. " I 
hope that as my neighbour you will sometimes give 
me the pleasure of a little visit from you." 

"I don't like putting off things," said Mr. Birn, 
who had now taken out a note of a thousand francs, 
which he laid on the table, slipping the theatre 
tickets into his pocket. 

" I will give you the change," said Dolores, open- 
ing a little bureau in which she kept money. 

"Oh, no," said the Englishman, that will do for 
a pourboire," and he went out leaving Dolores con- 
founded by the observation. 

* * Pourboire ! " she cried, when she found herself 
alone. "What a boor! I will send him back his 
money." 

But her neighbour's gross vulgarity had only irri- 
tated the epidermis of her vanity. She grew calmer 
under the reflection that a surplus of twenty louis 
made, after all, a nice little sum, for she had in her 
time put up with a good many cheap impertinences. 

" Ah, bah ! " she said, " one mustn't be so proud. 
No one saw, and it is washing-bill day. And, 
besides, this Englishman makes such a hash of 
French that it is quite likely, after all, it was some 
compliment he intended making me " ; and Dolores 
pocketed her louis with a light heart. 

But at night after the play she returned home 
furious. Mr. Birn had not used the tickets and the 
ten seats had remained vacant. Moreover, on going 
254 



The Toilette of the Graces 

on the stage, the unfortunate beneficiaire read the 
delight in the faces of her ''friends" of the green- 
room at seeing the auditorium so poorly occupied. 

She even heard one of them remark to another as 
she pointed to the empty places 

"Poor Dolores! There's hardly anyone in the 
place. The orchestra stalls are empty. Her 
name on the posters has frightened everybody 
away ! " 

" What an idea to raise the price of the seats ! " 

"A fine benefit! What do you bet the receipts 
won't fill a child's money-box or the bottom of a 
stocking? " 

" Ah ! there is her famous crimson velvet costume. " 

" She looks like a bundle of lobsters ! " 

" What did you make by your last benefit ? " asked 
one of the actresses of her companion. 

"Heaps, my dear! The stalls went at a louis, 
but I did not touch more than six francs. My dress- 
maker took the rest. If I was not afraid of being 
frozen, I should go to St. Petersburg." 

"What! not thirty years old yet, and you want 
to conquer your Russia? " 

" Well, what then ? " said the other, adding, " And 
you, when is your benefit? " 

" In a fortnight. I have already sold a thousand 
crowns' worth of tickets, without counting my Saint 
Cyriens." 

" Look, all the orchestra is going out ! " 

" Yes, Dolores is going to sing." 

And Dolores, red as her raiment, commenced her 
couplets in vinegar-sour tones. As she finished 
two bouquets fell at her feet, thrown by her two 
255 



The Latin Quarter 

actress friends, who came to the front of their 
private boxes, crying 

" Bravo, Dolores!" 

Her fury may be imagined, and though it was the 
middle of the night when she returned home, she 
opened the window and wakened Coco, who wakened 
the worthy Mr. Birn slumbering in the security of 
her given promise. From that day forth war was 
declared between the actress and the Englishman, 
war to the knife and unceasing, in which the adver- 
saries were remorseless. It improved the paroquet's 
education : he grew thoroughly well grounded in the 
tongue of Albion and screeched insults at his neigh- 
bour in his most piercing falsetto. It became in- 
tolerable. Dolores herself suffered, but she hoped 
that one day or other Mr. Birn would give notice to 
quit. It was thus she looked for her revenge. The 
Englishman, on his side, invented all sorts of ways 
to avenge himself. He first of all instituted a school 
for drum practice, but the police interfered in this. 
Mr. Birn's ingenuity next arranged pistol-shot 
practice, and his servants grew very expert at it ; 
but again the police objected, placing before him the 
article of municipal law which forbade the use of 
firearms in private houses. Mr. Birn gave up firing, 
but a few days later Mile. Dolores found that rain 
came into her room. The landlord called upon 
Mr. Birn, whom he found just going to take a sea 
bath in his drawing-room. This arrangement, which 
was on a very extensive scale, had been fixed to 
the walls with metal plates, all the doors had been 
nailed up, and into this improvised basin fifty 
hundredweight of salt had been mixed in two 
256 



. 



The Toilette of the Graces 



hundred buckets of water. It was a veritable little 
ocean. Nothing was wanting, not even the fish. 
It was entered by an opening made in the upper 
panel of the middle door, and Mr. Birn bathed in 
his bath every day. Before long the whole neigh- 
bourhood smelt the seaside, and Mile. Dolores had 
an inch of water in her bedroom. The landlord was 
furious, and threatened to bring an action for 
damages to his fixtures. 

11 Haven't I the right," demanded the Englishman, 
" to bathe in my own apartments? " 

" No, monsieur." 

"If I have not the right, very well," said the 
Englishman, full of respect for the law of the land 
in which he lived. " It is a pity, for it amused me 
very much." And he at once gave orders for the 
pouring away of his ocean. It was only just in 
time, for a dozen oysters had been spawned on the 
floor. 

Mr. Birn, however, did not give up the battle, and 
set to work to find a legal mode of conducting the 
curious warfare, which made a delightful theme of 
gossip for all idle Paris, for the incident had been 
noised abroad in the theatre promenades and other 
public places. Furthermore, Dolores held it a point 
of honour to come out of the struggle triumphant, 
since bets were made thereon. 

It was at this juncture that Mr. Birn thought of 
the piano, and it was not a bad suggestion to set the 
most discordant of instruments to struggle with the 
most discordant of birds. When, therefore, the ex- 
cellent idea occurred to him he hurried to put it into 
execution. He hired a piano and went in search of 
s 257 



The Latin Quarter 

a pianist, and the one supplied to him was our friend 
Schaunard. The Englishman recounted to him the 
miseries he had suffered from the paroquet and all 
he had done to try and bring- the actress to terms. 

''But, milord," said Schaunard, "there is a 
means of your getting rid of this beast. It is 
parsley. All chemists are unanimous in declaring 
that this pot-herb is prussic acid to animals. Chop 
some parsley, sprinkle it on your tapestry, and let 
it drop out of the window on Coco's cage. He will 
expire precisely in the same manner as if he had 
been invited to dine with Pope Alexander VI." 

"I have thought of that," said the Englishman, 
"but the beast is so carefully looked after. The 
piano is more certain." 

Schaunard stared at Mr. Birn, not at first com- 
prehending. 

"This is what I have planned," went on the 
Englishman. "The actress and her beast both 
sleep till midday. You follow my idea I am going 
to trouble their sleep. The law of this country 
permits me to make music from morning till night. 
Do you see what I want of you? " 

"But," said Schaunard, "the lady won't find it 
disagreeable. She will listen with delight to my 
music all day, and encore it. I have immense 
power over the instrument, and if only I had a 
delicate lung 

"Oh," interrupted the Englishman, " I don't ask 
you to play good music. All you've got to do is to 
thump the keys hard. Like that," added Mr. Birn, 
running a scale, "and always, always the same thing, 
without mercy, monsieur without mercy, and always 
258 



The Toilette of the Graces 

the same. I know something- of medicine, and that 
sort of thing maddens. They will grow mad under- 
neath, and it is upon this that I count. Now, mon- 
sieur, set to work at once, and I will pay you well." 

1 'And that," said Schaunard, when he related 
these proceedings, "that is what I have been about 
for the last fortnight one scale, nothing but the 
one scale from five o'clock in the morning till the 
evening. It is not, of course, precisely serious art, 
but what of that, my children ? The Englishman 
pays two hundred francs a month for this row. It 
would have been suicidal to refuse such a stroke 
of good luck. I accepted the offer, and in two or 
three days I shall receive the first month's payment." 

It was at the conclusion of these mutual confi- 
dences that the three friends agreed among them- 
selves to take advantage of the influx to the 
common funds to give their sweethearts the splendid 
equipment which each of them had so long sighed 
for. It was agreed, over and above, that whichever 
of them should get his money first should wait for 
the others to receive theirs, so that the purchases 
should be made all at the same time, and that 
Miles. Mimi, Musette and Phe"mie might enjoy to- 
gether and simultaneously the delights of having 
a new skin, as Schaunard called it. 

Now two or three days after this private con- 
ference Rodolphe received the price of his dentistry 
poem ; it amounted to eighty francs. On the follow- 
ing day Marcel pocketed the honorarium Medecis paid 
him for ten of the portraits of the grenadiers at six 
francs each. Marcel and Rodolphe had no little 
trouble to hide the fact of their access of wealth. 
259 



The Latin Quarter 

" I must smell of gold, I do think," said the poet. 

" Like me," said Marcel. " If Schaunard doesn't 
make haste it will be impossible for me to continue 
playing the Crcesus under the rose." But the next 
day the Bohemians beheld Schaunard coming to- 
wards them splendidly attired in a suit of gold- 
coloured nankeen. 

"Oh, good gracious me! " cried Phemie, dazzled 
at the sight of her lover in such elegant habiliments, 
" where did you get that coat? " 

"I found it among my papers," replied the 
musician, making a sign to his two friends to follow 
him. " I have received it," he said, when they found 
themselves alone. " Here are the piles," and he let 
the golden torrent pour through his fingers. 

"Very good," said Marcel. "Let us get under 
way then, and begin to sack the shops. How 
happy Musette will be ! " 

"And Mimi will be overjoyed," cried Rodolphe. 
"Come along, be quick, Schaunard! Aren't you 
coming ? " 

"Give me an instant to reflect," replied the 
musician. " In decking these ladies with these 
worldly vanities perhaps we are committing great 
folly. Only think, when they resemble the illustra- 
tions of the Iris, are you not afraid that it may 
exercise a baneful effect on their characters? And 
is it becoming for young men like us to treat 
women as if we were wrinkled old millionaires ? It 
isn't that I would hesitate to sacrifice fourteen or 
eighteen francs or so on Phemie for dress ; but I 
tremble lest when she has a new hat she will not 
take notice of me. A simple flower in her hair, and 
260 






The Toilette of the Graces 

she looks charming. What do you think, philo- 
sopher?" added Schaunard, appealing to Colline, 
who had meantime entered. 

" Ingratitude is the child of kind actions," said 
the philosopher. 

"Moreover," continued Schaunard, "when one's 
sweetheart is well dressed, what sort of a figure do 
you cut in your shabby suits ? You look like a sort 
of lady's-maid to them. I am not speaking for my- 
self," added Schaunard, squaring himself majestic- 
ally in his nankeen suit, "for, thank Heaven, I am 
presentable anywhere now." 

But in spite of Schaunard's opposition it was 
finally settled to make a raid upon the milliners 
and drapers of the neighbourhood for the benefit 
of the three ladies. 

And on this morning it was that, as has been 
related at the beginning of this chapter, Mile. 
Mimi awoke to find to her astonishment that 
Rodolphe was not in the room. The poet and his 
two friends were, in fact, just then ascending the 
staircase, followed by a tall young man and a 
modiste from "The Two Monkeys," bringing pat- 
terns and materials, Schaunard, who had bought 
the famous trumpet, marching in front playing the 
overture to the Caravane. 

Musette and Phemie, informed by Mimi, who 
lived on the ground floor, that hats and gowns and 
all sorts of things were being brought, rushed down- 
stairs with the speed of an avalanche. At the sight 
of all the finery spreading out before them the three 
women nearly went crazy with joy. Mimi, seized 
with a fit of hilarity, skipped about like a kid, 
261 



The Latin Quarter 

flourishing a small barege scarf over her shoulders. 
Musette flung her arms round Marcel's neck, holding 
in each hand a little green kid boot, which she beat 
together like cymbals. Ph^mie gazed tearfully at 
Schaunard she could say nothing but " Oh ! my 
Alexander ! my Alexander ! " 

11 There is no fear that they will refuse the gifts 
of Artaxerxes," murmured Colline the philosopher. 
When the first paroxysm of delight had subsided, 
when the goods were selected and the bills paid, 
Rodolphe announced to the three ladies that they 
would have to arrange for airing their new toilettes 
in public the next morning. 

" We are going into the country," he said. 

" Oh, joy ! joy ! " cried Mimi. " It is not the first 
time that I have bought, cut out, made and worn a 
gown all in one day. And we have all night before 
us. We shall be ready, shan't we, girls ? " 

4 'We shall be ready," cried Musette and Phemie 
in a breath. 

They fell to work instantly, and for sixteen hours 
scissors and needles and thread knew no rest. The 
next morning was the first of May. The Easter- 
tide bells had for some days past been sounding 
the resurrection of spring, and it had come brilliantly 
and gaily. It had come as the old German ballad 
has it as lightly as the young girl who hastens 
to plant May flowers beneath her lover's window. 
It tinted the skies blue, the trees green and all nature 
in fair colours. It roused up the lazy sun lost in its 
bed of mists, bending over the snowy clouds which 
made its pillow, and cried, "Come! waken, my 
friend, waken ! It is time. Waken ! set forth to 
262 



The Toilette of the Graces 

work. Put on your beautiful raiment made of fresh 
golden rays without more ado, and show yourself in 
your balcony to tell the world I have come ! " 

Whereupon the sun rose and began his course, 
moving proudly and majestically as a courtier ; the 
swallows, come back from their eastern pilgrimage, 
shadowed the air with their flight, the hawthorn 
whitened the hedges, violets scented the woodland 
herbage beneath the trees whence the birds flew 
joyously from their nests with romance in their 
little breasts. It was spring, the real, crue spring 
of poets and lovers, and not Matthew Laensburg's 
spring a villainous spring with a red nose, with 
sharp finger-nails, who freezes up the poor by their 
hearthstones when the last embers of their last 
handful of faggots have long died to pale ashes. 
Warm breezes floated through the translucent 
air, bearing the first fragrance of the country to 
the crowded cities. The clear, warm sunbeams 
streamed upon the window-panes. They said to 
the sick folk, " Open ; we bring health " ; and they 
poured into the chamber of the maiden looking in 
her mirror that innocent and earliest love of in- 
nocent youth "Open, sweet, that we may shine 
upon your beauty ; we are the messengers of fair 
weather. You can don your light gown, your straw 
hat, and your little smart shoes. The woods and 
fields, carpeted with flowers, wait for your light 
tread, and the music is tuning for the dance. Good 
morning to you, fair one ! " 

As the Angelus sounded from the steeple of the 
neighbouring church the three industrious coquettes, 
who had hardly found time for any sleep, were 
263 



The Latin Quarter 

already at their mirrors bestowing final touches on 
their new toilettes. 

All three of them were charming, dressed alike, 
and in their faces was the same expression of the 
satisfaction which is born of the realisation of long- 
cherished wishes. Musette's beauty was specially 
striking. 

" I have never been so happy before," she said to 
Marcel. " It seems to me as if heaven had put all 
the happiness of my life into this moment, and I am 
afraid of there being none left. Ah, rubbish ! when 
there is no more of it, more must be made. We 
have the recipe for making it," she added gaily, 
throwing her arms round Marcel's neck. 

As to Phemie, one thing disturbed her. 

"I like green grass and little birds very much," 
she said, "but one never meets anybody in the 
country, and no one will see my pretty hat and my 
lovely gown. Couldn't we go into the country in 
the streets ? " 

At eight o'clock the whole place was startled by 
the blare of Schaunard's hunting-horn giving the 
signal of departure. Everybody ran to the window 
to see the Bohemians go by. Colline, who was of 
the party, closed in the procession, carrying the 
girls' parasols. An hour later all the merry band 
were rambling in the fields of Fontenay aux Roses. 
They returned home very late. Colline, who had 
undertaken the duties of treasurer, explained that 
they had forgotten to spend six francs, and placed 
these relics upon the table. 

" What shall we do with them? " said Marcel. 

" Shall we buy consols? " said Schaunard. 
264 



XVIII 

FRANCINE'S MUFF 

A1ONG the real Bohemians of real Bohemia I 
once knew a man named Jacques D . He 

was a sculptor, and gave promise of splendid talent ; 
but poverty and misery did not give him time to 
bring the promise to fruition. He died of decline, 
in the March of 1844, at the Hospital of St. Louis, 
Ward Sainte Victoire, Bed 14. 

I had known Jacques at the hospital, where I was 
myself laid up by a long illness. Jacques had in 
him, as I have said, the material for great things, 
but he did not believe in it much himself. During 
the two months I knew him, and through the time 
when he felt Death's hand was upon him, I never 
once heard him complain or indulge in the lamenta- 
tions which make the incompris so ridiculous. He 
died without any affectations, terrible to look at in 
the convulsions of dissolution. His death brings 
back to my memory, moreover, one of the most 
atrocious scenes I have ever witnessed in this 
caravanserai of human suffering. His father, being 
informed of the event, came to claim the body, and 
for a long time Haggled over paying the thirty-six 
francs claimed by the administrative regulations. 
He haggled also for the last offices performed by 
the Church, and so insistently that they finished by 
265 



The Latin Quarter 

giving- him back six francs. When the time came 
for placing the corpse in the coffin, the attendant, 
removing the hospital wrapper, asked one of the 
dead man's friends who happened to be present for 
money to pay for a shroud for him. The poor devil, 
who had not a sou of his own, went to Jacques' 
father, who fell into a violent rage, and asked when 
they would cease bothering him. 

The probationer who assisted in this wretched 
business cast a glance at the corpse, and this tender 
and simple observation escaped her 

"Oh, monsieur! he cannot be buried like that, 
poor fellow ! It is so cold. At least give him a 
shirt, so that he does not go into the good God's 
presence naked ! " 

The father gave five francs for the shirt, but he 
recommended them to go to a second-hand dealer's 
in the Rue Grange aux Belles. " It will be cheaper," 
he said. 

This cruelty of Jacques' father was explained to 
me later. He was furious at his son having em- 
braced an artist's career, and his anger was not 
appeased even in the presence of death. 

But I am a long way from Mile. Francine and her 
muff. I must return. Mile. Francine had been 
Jacques' first and only sweetheart, though he did 
not die old, for he was scarcely twenty-three when 
his father would have let him be laid naked in the 
ground. This love affair of his Jacques himself 
related to me when he was Number 14 and I was 
Number 16 in the Sainte Victoire Ward a vile place 
to die in. 

Ah, reader ! before beginning this tale, which 
266 



Francine's Muff 

would be beautiful if I could tell it as it was told 
to me by my friend Jacques, let me take a smoke in 
the old clay pipe which he gave me the day the 
doctor told him he must not smoke any more. 
Nevertheless, in the middle of the night, when the 
attendant was asleep, my friend Jacques borrowed 
his pipe, and asked me for a little tobacco. One 
grows very weary at night in these great wards, 
when one cannot sleep and one is in pain. 

"Only two or three puffs," pleaded he, and I let 
him have them ; and Sister Genevieve made a pre- 
tence of not smelling the smoke when she made her 
round. Ah, good sister ! Good indeed you were, 
and how fair, too, you looked as you passed by 
sprinkling the holy water ! Slowly, softly, you 
came on through the shadowy arches in your 
white veil, whose folds made such beautiful lines, 
so admired by our friend Jacques. Ah, good sister, 
you were the Beatrice of this hell upon earth ! Your 
consoling words were so sweet that it was worth 
while complaining to be consoled by you. Had not 
my friend Jacques died one day when the snow was 
falling, he would have carved you a sweet little 
Virgin to put in your cell. Good Sister Genevieve ! 
A Reader: "Well, and the muff? I can't see 
where the muff comes in." 

Another Reader : "And Mademoiselle Francine. 
Where is she? 

First Reader : " This tale is not very cheerful." 
Second Reader : " Let's get to the end of it." 
I profoundly beg your pardon, gentlemen. It is 
my friend Jacques' pipe which drew me into these 
digressions. Besides, I did not undertake only to 
267 



The Latin Quarter 



make you laugh. Bohemia is not always merry. 
Jacques and Francine first met each other in a 
lodging-house of the Rue de la Tour d'Auvergne, 
where each had come to live at the beginning of 
one April. 

The artist and the young girl were quite a week 
before striking up the usual sort of acquaintance 
which is almost forced upon dwellers on the same 
floor. Before, however, having exchanged a single 
word they seemed to know each other. Francine 
knew that her neighbour was a poor devil of an 
/ artist, and Jacques knew that his neighbour was a 
/ little dressmaker run away from her ow r n family to 
\ escape the bad treatment of a stepmother. She 
performed miracles of economy to make both ends 
meet, and as pleasure was an unknown quantity to 
her she had no desire for it. This is how they came 
to obey the common law of their mode of life. One 
April evening Jacques returned to his lodging worn 
out with fatigue. He had fasted since morning, 
and felt profoundly downcast and sad, with one of 
those vague depressions which, having no precise 
cause, seize upon one anywhere and at any moment 
a sort of apoplexy of the heart to which the 
unfortunate who live alone are specially subject. 
Jacques, w r ho felt his little room stifling, opened the 
window for a breath of fresh air. It was a lovely 
evening, and the setting sun was casting his melan- 
choly magic of colour on the heights of Montmartre. 
Jacques remained pensively at his window listening 
to the winged choir of cheery song that broke the 
evening calm, and it increased his feeling of melan- 
choly. As a raven passed with a croak across the 
268 



Francine's Muff 

window he thought of the time when ravens brought 
bread to Elijah, the pious hermit, and he came to 
the conclusion that ravens were no longer so 
charitable. Hardly able to bear himself any longer, 
he closed the window, drew the curtains, and 
not having any money to buy oil for his lamp, 
he lighted a resin candle which he had brought 
from the Grand Chartreuse when he had visited it. 
Dropping deeper and deeper into his sad mood he 
got his pipe. " Lucky I have enough tobacco to 
hide the pistol," he muttered to himself as he began 
to smoke. 

He must have been inordinately melancholy that 
evening to think of hiding the pistol. It was his 
resource at great crises, and was generally suc- 
cessful. This was how he did it : Jacques smoked 
tobacco on which he had sprinkled a few drops of 
laudanum, and he smoked until the cloud of smoke 
issuing from his pipe had grown thick enough to 
hide all the objects in his little room, especially a 
pistol that was hanging on the wall. It was a 
matter of a dozen pipes. When the pistol was 
quite invisible it almost always happened that the 
smoke and laudinum combined sent Jacques to 
sleep, and genera lly on the threshold of his dreams 
Jacques' melancholy left him. 

But that evening, after using all his tobacco and 
the pistol was entirely hidden, Jacques still remained 
wretched. That same evening Mile. Francine, on 
the contrary, was in an extremely gay mood as she 
mounted to her room, and her gaiety, like Jacques' 
melancholy, had no cause. It was simply one of 
those happy times with her which fell from heaven, 
269 



The Latin Quarter 

sent by God into honest hearts. Mile. Francine 
then was in a merry mood, and sang cheerily as she 
ascended the staircase ; but as she opened her door 
a sudden gust of wind blowing in at the window of 
the landing extinguished her candle. 

"How provoking!" exclaimed the young girl. 
4 'That means going all the way back, down six 
flights and up again ! " 

But then perceiving a light across the doorway of 
Jacques' room, laziness, mingling with a feeling of 
curiosity, suggested that she should go and ask the 
artist for a light. It is a service, thought she, that 
neighbours constantly render each other, and there 
was nothing compromising in it. She therefore 
tapped two soft little taps on Jacques' door, and he 
opened it, a trifle surprised at such a late visit ; but 
she had scarcely stepped inside the room than the 
tobacco smoke took away her breath, and before 
she could utter a word she fell senseless into a chair, 
and the candlestick and her key slipped to the floor. 
It was midnight ; everyone in the house was asleep. 
Jacques did not deem it wise to call for assistance ; 
he feared to compromise his neighbour. He con- 
tented himself with opening his window and letting 
the fresh air blow in, and after he had sprinkled a 
few drops of water on the young girl's face she 
opened her eyes and gradually came to herself. 
When, five minutes later, she had entirely recovered 
consciousness Francine explained what had led her 
to the artist's door, and made many apologies for 
what had happened. 

" Now I am all right again," she said. "I will 
go back to my room," 

270 



Francine's Muff 

And she had already opened the door of Jacques' 
room when she perceived that not only had she still 
omitted to light her candle, but that also she had 
not her key. 

" How stupid I am ! " she said, putting her candle 
to the resin candle. " I came here for a light, and 
I am going away without it ! " 

But at that moment the current of air set up in 
the room by the opening of the window suddenly 
extinguished the waxlight, and left the two young 
people in darkness. 

" One would think it had been done on purpose," 
said Francine. " Forgive me, monsieur, all the 
trouble I have occasioned you, and be kind enough 
to strike a light, so that I can look for my key." 

"Certainly, mademoiselle," replied Jacques, grop- 
ing for matches. 

He would soon have found them, but a curious 
notion struck him, and he put the matches back in 
his pocket, exclaiming 

" Good heavens, mademoiselle ! Now comes 
another difficulty. I haven't a single match left ! 
I used the last when I came in." 

" I hope that is a neatly made taradiddle," 
thought he. 

"Oh dear! oh dear!" cried Francine; "I could 
easily find my way without a light. My room is not 
so big that I need lose myself in it ; but I must 
have my key, monsieur. I beg you to help me 
look for it, monsieur. It must be on the floor." 

" Let us try," said Jacques. 

And down they went on their knees in search of 
the lost key ; but both being guided by the same 
271 



The Latin Quarter 

instinct, it happened that during the search their 
hands, groping in the same direction, kept coming 
in contact, and as they were both very awkward at 
it, they did not find the key. 

" The moon, which is so clouded over now, always 
shines full into my room," said Jacques. " Let us 
wait a little while. Presently it will break through 
the clouds." 

And while they waited for the rising of the moon 
they began to chat. A chat in the midst of the 
darkness, in a narrow chamber, on a night in 
spring ; a chat which, at first frivolous and trifling, 
reached the chapter of confidences you know the 
road that takes. Words become gradually con- 
fused, full of hesitations, voices get lower, the 
words alternate with sighs, hands meet and com- 
plete the thought which mounts from the heart 
to the lips. Find the end of it in your memory, 
O young people. Recall, youth, recall, young 
maiden you who now to-day walk hand in hand 
and three days ago did not know each other. 

At last the moon unveiled herself, and her bril- 
liancy flooded the little chamber. Mile. Francine 
started from her reverie, uttering a little cry. 

" What is the matter?" asked Jacques, taking 
her in his arms. 

"Nothing," murmured Francine; "I thought I 
heard someone knock." And without Jacques ob- 
serving she pushed the key, which she had just 
caught sight of, under a chair with her foot. She 
did not want to find it. 

First Reader: "I certainly shall not let my 
daughter read this story." 
272 



Francine's Muff 

Second Reader: "So far I haven't seen a single 
hair of Mademoiselle Francine's muff, and as for 
the girl herself, I don't even know what she is like, 
whether she is dark or fair." 

Patience, O my readers, patience ! I have pro- 
mised you a muff, and I will give it you in course of 
time, as my friend Jacques gave it to his poor friend 
Francine, who became his sweetheart, as I have 
indicated above. She was fair, this Francine fair, 
and of a lively disposition, which is not ordinarily 
the case. She had known nothing of love till she\ 
was twenty, but a vague presentiment of early death ' 
warned her not to delay longer if she desired to 
know it. 

She saw Jacques, and she loved him. Their 
union lasted six months. It was begun in spring- 
time ; they parted in autumn. Francine was con- \ 
sumptive. She knew it, and her friend Jacques 
knew it also. A fortnight after they began life 
together he learned it from one of his friends who 
was a doctor. " She will go with the coming of the 
yellow leaves," the doctor said. Francine had over- 
heard the words, and saw the despair which it 
caused her Jacques. 

"What matter the yellow leaves?" she said, all 
her love shining in her smile. "What does it 
matter about autumn ? It is summer now, and the 
leaves are green. Let us enjoy it, my friend. 
When you see me about to part from life you must 
take me in your arms and hold me tight, and forbid 
me to go. You know I am obedient, and I shall 
remain." 

And this exquisite being passed for the next five 
T 273 



The Latin Quarter 

months through all the miseries of Bohemian exist- 
ence, a song and a smile on her lips. 

Jacques tried to deceive himself. His friends 
often said to him, " Francine is worse; she needs 
care." Then Jacques beat up all Paris to try and 
find remedies, but Francine would not hear of them, 
and threw the drugs and medicines out of the 
window. At night, when the coughing fits seized 
her, she would go out of the room and have her fit 
out on the landing, that Jacques might not hear. 

One day, when they had gone together into the 
country, Jacques saw a tree whose leaves were, 
beginning to fade. He gazed sadly at Francine, 
who was walking slowly and dreamily. 

Francine saw Jacques grow pale, and she guessed 
the cause. 

" How silly you are ! " she said, embracing him ; 
" this is only July. There are three months to come 
before October. With such love as ours unchang- 
ing, never ceasing time is double ; and besides, if 
I feel worse when the leaves begin to fade, we will 
go and live together in a pine forest. There the 
leaves are always green." 

# * * * * 

When October came Francine could no longer 
leave her bed. Jacques' friend attended her. The 
little chamber they lodged in was very high up, and 
looked into a courtyard where there was a tree, 
which every day grew more bare of its leaves. 
Jacques fixed a curtain before the window to hide 
the tree from the sick girl, but Francine made him 
draw it back. 

" Oh, my love," she said to Jacques, " I will give 
274 



Francine's Muff 

you a hundred times more kisses than it has leaves " ; 
and then she added, " Besides, I am much better. 
I mean to go out soon, but as it will be cold and I 
don't want to have red hands, you must buy me a 
muff." 

All the time she was ill this muff was her dream. 

On All Saints' Eve, seeing Jacques more miser- 
able even than usual, she wanted to cheer him, and 
to prove that she was better she got up. Just at 
that moment the doctor came in. He forced her to 
return to her bed. 

"Jacques," he said in a low voice to the artist, 
" courage, man ! All is over. She is dying." 

Jacques burst into tears. 

"You can give her anything she asks for now," 
added the doctor. " There is no hope ! " 

Francine guessed from his eyes what the doctor 
had said to Jacques. 

"Don't listen to him!" she cried, stretching out 
her arms towards her lover. " Don't listen to him ; 
he is telling lies. We will go out together to- 
morrow. It is All Saints' Day. It will be cold. 
Go and buy me the muff, please ; I am afraid of 
chilblains this winter." 

The doctor was going to follow his friend from 
the room, but Francine detained him. 

"Go now at once and buy my muff," she said to 
Jacques. "Get a good one, so that it will last a 
long time." 

And when they were alone she said to the doctor 

"Oh, monsieur! I am going to die, and I know 
it. But before I go let me have something that 
will give me strength to live through one more 
275 



The Latin Quarter 

night. I entreat you ; make me beautiful for one 
night more, and after that I will die, since God will 
not let me live any longer." 

While the doctor was doing his best to console 
her the chill north-east wind swept round the little 
draughty room and tossed a faded leaf of the tree 
in the courtyard on to her bed. Francine drew 
aside the curtain, and saw that the tree was com- 
pletely bare. 

"It is the last," she murmured, putting the leaf 
under her pillow. 

" You will not die till to-morrow," said the doctor. 
" You have one more night." 

"Ah! what happiness!" said the young girl. 
"One winter's night. It will be long." 

Jacques came in again. He had brought the muff. 

" It is a very pretty one," said Francine ; " I shall 
take it out when I go." 

She passed the night with Jacques. The next 
day, All Saints' Day, as the midday Angelus 
began to ring, the agonies of death seized her, and 
her whole frame trembled. 

" My hands are cold," murmured she. " Give me 
my muff." And she thrust her hands into the soft 
fur. 

"It is the end!" said the doctor to Jacques. 
"Kiss her." Jacques sealed his lips upon hers. 
At the last moment they wanted to take her muff 
away, but she kept her hands tight in it. 

"No, no," she said, "leave it. It is winter- 
time ; it is cold. Ah ! my poor Jacques ! Ah ! my 
poor Jacques! What will become of you? Ah! 
my God ! " 

276 



Francine's Muff 

And the next day Jacques was alone. 

First Reader: "I said this wasn't going to be 
a cheerful tale." 

What, then, reader? One can't always be merry. 

It was the morning of All Saints' Day. Francine 
had just died. Two men watched by the bedside. 
One, who was standing near the bed, was the 
doctor ; the other, kneeling beside it, was pressing 
his lips on the dead hands, almost consuming them 
in the anguish of his despair. It was Jacques, 
Francine's sweetheart. For more than six hours 
he had been stupefied with grief. A passing street 
organ roused him. 

The organ was playing an air that Francine often 
used to sing of a morning as she was dressing. One 
of those insane hopes which are only born of pro- 
found despair passed Jacques' mind. His thoughts 
went back into the near past, the time when Fran- 
cine was only dying. He forgot the present, and 
began to tell himself that the dead girl was only 
sleeping, and that presently she would waken and 
open her lips to sing her morning song. But the 
sounds of the organ had not died away before 
Jacques was facing realities once more. Francine's 
lips were eternally closed for songs, and the smile 
which her last thought had brought to them was 
already fast beginning to fade from them in the 
shadows of death. 

" Be brave, Jacques," said the doctor, who was a 
friend of the sculptor's. 

Jacques rose, and said, as he looked at the doctor, 
' ' It is all at an end, isn't it? There is no hope? " 

Without replying to his folly, his friend closed the 
277 



The Latin Quarter 

bed-curtains, and coming beside the sculptor, he 
grasped his hand. 

" Francine is dead," he said. " It was to be ex- 
pected. God knows we have done all we could to 
save her. She was a good girl, Jacques, and loved 
you very dearly, more even than you loved her, and 
differently, for her love was nothing but love, 
while yours had alloy in it. Francine is dead, 
but all is not yet at an end. There are arrange- 
ments to be made for burying her. We will go 
and attend to it together, and while we are away 
we will ask your neighbour to watch here." 

Jacques allowed his friend to lead him away. All 
day they were running about to the registrar's office, 
and the undertaker's, and the cemetery. As Jacques 
had no money, the doctor pawned his watch, a ring, 
and some articles of wearing apparel to defray the 
expenses of the funeral, which was fixed for next 
day. They returned late in the evening. The 
good woman his neighbour made Jacques eat 
something. 

" Yes," he said, " I shall be glad of it ; I am cold, 
and I need a little strength, for I have got to work 
to-night." 

The neighbour and the doctor did not understand. 
Jacques sat down to the table, and began to eat 
so fast that he nearly choked. Then he asked for 
something to drink, but before he had placed the 
glass to his lips he let it fall to the ground. The 
glass, shattered by the fall, had wakened in his mind 
a memory which recalled his momentarily stifled 
anguish. The day when Francine first came to live 
with him she, already ailing, had felt faint, and 
278 



Francine's Muff 

Jacques had given her a little eau sucree in that 
glass. Afterwards it had been carefully kept as 
a relic of love. On the rare occasions when a 
little money came in Jacques had bought for 
Francine one or two bottles of strengthening wine 
which had been prescribed for her, and it was 
always from this glass that Francine drank the 
wine, which seemed to brighten and sparkle with 
her gaiety. 

Jacques sat for a long time gazing silently at the 
scattered fragments of the fragile cherished souvenir, 
and it seemed to him that his heart was breaking 
and that he could feel the fragments wounding his 
breast. When he recovered himself a little he picked 
up the bits of glass and threw them into a drawer. 
Then he asked the neighbour to fetch him a couple 
of candles, and to have a pail of water put by his 
door. 

" Don't go away," he said to the doctor, who was 
not, in fact, thinking of leaving him, " I shall want 
you presently." 

The water and the candles were brought, and 
then the two friends were alone together. 

"What are you going to do?" said the doctor, 
seeing Jacques pour some of the water into a 
wooden bowl and throw handfuls of plaster into it. 

"What am I going to do? Can't you guess?" 
said the sculptor. " I am going to take a cast of 
Francine's face, and since I should not have the 
courage for it if I were alone, I know you will not 
leave me." 

Then, approaching the bed, Jacques parted the 
curtains and drew aside the sheet which covered 
279 



The Latin Quarter 

the dead girl's face. His hands began to tremble, 
and a half-stifled sob escaped his lips. 

"Bring the light," he cried to his friend, "and 
come and hold the bowl." One of the candles was 
fixed at the head of the bed in a manner to cast all 
its brilliancy on the face of the dead ; the other was 
placed at the foot. Taking a little brush dipped in 
oil, the sculptor anointed the eyelashes, the eye- 
brows and the hair, which he arranged in the way 
Francine had been accustomed to wear it. 

" In that way she will not suffer when the mask is 
taken off," said Jacques to himself. 

These precautions taken, and having placed the 
head of the dead girl in a favourable position, 
Jacques began to pour the plaster on in successive 
layers until the mould had attained the required 
thickness. In a quarter of an hour the operation 
was ended, and was completely successful. By a 
strange accident a change had come over Francine's 
face. The blood, which had not as yet had time 
entirely to congeal, warmed doubtless by the heat 
of the plaster, had flowed back to the surface, 
and a rosy flush gradually suffused the dull white- 
ness of the brow and cheeks. The eyelids, which 
had opened when the mask was lifted, revealed the 
soft azure of her eyes, whose expression wore a 
kind of vague intelligence, and from the lips, half- 
opened in a dawning smile, there seemed to come 
that last word forgotten in the final adieu which 
the heart only hears. 

Who can affirm that intelligence is absolutely 
quenched when the insensibility of the body begins ? 
Who can say that the passions are extinguished, and 
280 



Francine's Muff 

die exactly at the moment of the last beat of the heart 
which they have stirred ? May not the soul volun- 
tarily linger captive in the body already clothed for 
the grave, and, from the threshold of the tomb, spend 
a little while in tears and regrets? Those who go 
have good reason for mistrusting those who remain. 

At the moment Jacques was endeavouring to pre- 
serve her features by the help of art, who knows 
but that a memory of the life that was past had 
come to waken Francine in the first sleep of her long 
rest? Perhaps she remembered that he whom she 
had left was artist as well as lover ; that he was 
both the one and the other, because he could not be 
one without the other ; that for him love was the 
soul of art, and that if he had loved her much it 
was because she had known how to be woman and 
mistress to him an embodied sentiment. And so, 
perhaps, Francine, desiring to leave Jacques the 
human image which had become for him an in- 
carnate idea, had known, dead -cold as she was, 
how once more to reinvest her face with all the 
radiance of her love and the graces of her youth. 
In art she would live again. 

And perhaps the poor girl's thought was correct 
enough, for among true artists there exist these 
strange Pygmalions, who, unlike other lovers, would 
fain change their living Galateas into marble. 

Looking at the serenity of that face which bore no 
trace of pain, no one would have guessed at the long 
suffering which had preceded her death. Francine 
appeared as if she were in a dream of love ; and one 
might have said she had died of her own beauty. 

The doctor, overcome with fatigue, slept in a 
corner. 

281 



The Latin Quarter 

Jacques fell once more into doubt. His soul, 
floating in delusions, insisted on fancying that she 
whom he had so greatly loved would waken once 
more, and as faint nerve contractions, produced by 
the action of the casting, stirred at intervals the 
immobility of the body, the simulation of life held 
Jacques in the bonds of his happy illusion till morn- 
ing, when an official came to verify the death and 
authorise the interment. And truly, if the foolish- 
ness of despair doubted of the death of this beautiful 
girl, all the infallibility of science was needed to 
believe in it. 

While the neighbour prepared Francine for her 
last rest Jacques was led into another room, where 
he found some of his friends assembled to follow the 
cortege. In Jacques' presence the Bohemians ab- 
stained, out of the affection they had for him, from 
all the set consolatory speeches which only aggra- 
vate grief. Without uttering one of the words so 
difficult to find, so painful to hear, they each silently 
wrung the hand of their friend. 

"This death is a great misfortune for Jacques," 
said one of them to another. 

"Yes," replied the painter Lazare, a strange 
creature who almost at the outset of his career 
had schooled himself into conquering down all the 
rebel passions of youth and imposing rigid inflexi- 
bility upon them so strenuously that the artist had 
finished by crushing out the man, "but a misfortune 
which he voluntarily brought into his life. Since he 
knew Francine Jacques is greatly changed." 

" She made him happy," said another. 

" Happy ! " rejoined Lazare. " What do you call 
282 



Francine's Muff 

happy ? How can you call that happiness, the feel- 
ing which puts a man in such a state as Jacques is 
in now? Place a masterpiece of painting or of 
sculpture before him at this moment, he would 
not turn his head to look at it ; and yet for one 
look again only at Francine I'll dare to say he 
would trample over a Titian or a Raphael. My 
mistress is immortal, and will never play me false. 
She lives in the Louvre, and her name is La 
Joconde. " 

While Lazare was on the point of continuing his 
theories of art and sentiment they were summoned 
to start for the church. 

After a few muttered prayers, the little procession 
continued its way to the cemetery. As it was All 
Souls' Day an immense crowd was in the place. 
A good many people looked after Jacques as he 
walked bareheaded behind the hearse. 

" Poor fellow ! " said one. " It is his mother, no 
doubt." 

1 * It is his father," said another. 

" It is his sister," said others. 

Come there to study the outward expression of 
grief and regret at this mournful festival of memo- 
ries, which is celebrated once a year in the November 
fogs, a poet, as he saw Jacques pass, guessed that 
he was following his dead sweetheart to the grave. 
When they reached the opened piece of ground the 
Bohemians, bareheaded, gathered round. Jacques 
went to the very verge ; his friend the doctor held 
him by the arm. 

The gravediggers and cemetery folk, being extra 
busy, were anxious to get the affair over. 
283 



The Latin Quarter 

"There is not to be any speech," said one of 
them. "So much the better. Whoop! Come 
along, quick ! " 

And the coffin was taken from the hearse, tied with 
cords and let down into the grave. The men drew 
up the ropes, and taking their spades, began to 
shovel in the earth. It was soon filled up, and a 
little wooden cross was stuck in. In the midst of 
his sobs the doctor heard Jacques cry despairingly 

" Oh, my youth ! It is you they are burying ! " 

Jacques was a member of a society called "The 
Water Drinkers," which had apparently been 
founded in imitation of the famous society of the 
Rue des Quatre Vents which is referred to in the 
fine novel of Un grand homme de province. Only 
there was a vast difference between the heroes of 
that fraternity and the Water Drinkers, who, like 
most imitators, had exaggerated the system which 
they desired to adopt. This difference will be under- 
stood by the single fact that in M. de Balzac's book 
the members of the brotherhood finish by attaining 
the end at which they aimed, proving that every 
system which succeeds is good, while after several 
years of existence the Society of the Water 
Drinkers was naturally broken up by the death 
of all its members, without the name of one of 
them being attached to any work to attest they 
ever existed. During his union with Francine 
Jacques' connection with the Society of the Water 
Drinkers was very lax. The needs of life had 
forced the artist to violate certain of its conditions, 
signed and sworn to by the Water Drinkers on the 
day the society was founded. 
284 



Francine's Muff 

Mounted on their stilts of an absurd pride, these 
young- men had laid down as a first principle of their 
association that they would never forsake the higher 
walks of their art ; that is to say, that in spite of 
the poverty of their mortal lot they would none of 
them bow to Necessity. Thus the poet Melchior 
would never consent to lay aside what he called his 
lyre to write a commercial prospectus or a topical 
pamphlet. It was all very well for the poet 
Rodolphe, a good-for-nothing, who was good for 
everything, and who never let a hundred-sou piece 
pass him without trying to hook it in with no matter 
what. The painter Lazare, a proud bundle of rags, 
had never soiled his brushes by painting the portrait 
of a tailor holding a parrot on his finger, as friend 
Marcel had once done in exchange for the famous 
coat called Methuselah, which the fingers of each 
of his lady-loves had embroidered with darns. 

While the sculptor Jacques held communion of 
ideas with the Water Drinkers he submitted to 
the tyranny of the society's rules ; but since his 
connection with Francine he would not subject 
the poor girl, already ailing and weak, to the ruling 
to which he had submitted in his solitary days. 
Jacques' was essentially a true and loyal nature. He 
went to the president of the society, the exclusive 
Lazare, and informed him that henceforth he should 
accept all work coming in his way which would be 
productive of money. " My dear fellow," replied 
Lazare, "your declaration of love was your leave- 
taking of art. We will remain your friends if you 
desire it, but we are no longer your associates. 
Follow your trade at your convenience ; for my part, 
285 



The Latin Quarter 

I regard you no longer as a sculptor you are just a 
plaster spoiler. It is true you may be able to drink 
wine, but we who continue to drink water and eat 
our portions of bread, we remain artists." 

Notwithstanding Lazare's observations, Jacques re- 
mained an artist ; but to keep Francine beside him 
he undertook, when he got the chance of it, any sort 
of bread-winning work. It was in this way he 
worked for a long time in the studio of the decorator 
Romagne"si. Skilful in execution, ingenious in in- 
vention, Jacques, without forsaking serious art, 
might have acquired a big reputation as a worker 
in compositions of the kind which have become 
one of the chief elements of trade in luxuries. But 
Jacques was idle, like all true artists and amorous 
poets are apt to be. Youth in him had matured 
tardily but ardently, and, with a presentiment of her 
early death, he desired to exhaust it all in the arms 
of Francine. So it frequently happened that good 
chances of work came knocking at his door without 
his answering, because he would have had to put 
himself to inconvenience, and found himself only too 
well content to dream on in the light of his sweet- 
heart's eyes. 

When Francine was dead the sculptor went to see 
his old friends the Water Drinkers ; but the spirit of 
Lazare dominated the society, all of whose members 
were fossilised in the egoism of art. Jacques did 
not find there what he was in search of. They did 
not understand his wretchedness, which they sought 
to calm down with reason and logic, and seeing 
this lack of sympathy he preferred to isolate his 
misery rather than have it exposed for discussion. 
286 



Francine's Muff 

He broke completely, therefore, with the Water 
Drinkers, and lived entirely alone. 

A few days after Francine's funeral Jacques went 
to a marble-cutter of Montparnasse Cemetery and 
proposed the following 1 arrangement to him : the 
mason was to furnish him with iron railings round 
Francine's grave, in the midst of which Jacques 
was to erect a monument of his own design. He 
was further to give him a block of white marble 
in consideration of his working three months for 
him either as stone-carver or as sculptor. The 
mason had at that time several important orders. 
He went to Jacques' studio, and the sight of the 
work he was engaged upon there told him that the 
chance which had brought Jacques his way was 
a little fortune to him. A week later Francine's 
grave had its enclosure, in the midst of which the 
wooden cross had been replaced by a stone cross 
deeply engraved with her name. 

Fortunately Jacques had to do with an honest 
man, who was perfectly conscious that a little cast- 
iron and three square feet of marble would not pay 
three months of Jacques' work, whose talent would 
bring him a great deal of money in a short time. 
He offered him a share in his business, but Jacques 
would not agree to it. The little variety of subject 
that could be treated was against his inventive 
talent ; besides, he had what he wanted a big 
piece of marble from which he intended to create 
a masterpiece for Francine's tomb. 

At the beginning of the following spring Jacques' 
worldly prospects had considerably bettered. His 
friend the doctor introduced him to a great foreign 
287 



The Latin Quarter 

nobleman who was about to make his home in Paris, 
and was building a magnificent house in one of the 
best quarters of the city. 

Several famous artists had been commissioned to 
adorn and add to the splendour of the little palace. 
Jacques was required to carve a mantelpiece for 
the great drawing-room. I think I can still see 
his cartoons. It was a charming piece of work ; 
the entire poem of winter-time was told in the 
marble which was to make a frame for the flames. 
Jacques' studio being too small, he asked for and 
obtained for the execution of the work a corner in 
the house itself, which was already inhabited. A 
good sum was advanced to him on the price agreed 
for his labours. From this Jacques began to repay 
the doctor the money he had lent him when Francine 
died, and he hastened to the cemetery to cover the 
ground where his love slept with a veritable field of 
flowers. 

But the spring had come before Jacques, and upon 
the young girl's grave a thousand flowers had 
sprung up in the green grass. Jacques had not 
the heart to tear them up, for he thought the flowers 
had in them something of his lost love. When the 
gardener asked him what he wanted done with the 
roses and pansies which he had brought, Jacques 
told him to plant them on a neighbouring new-made 
grave, the poor resting-place of some poor creature, 
unenclosed and having no memorial but a morsel of 
wood stuck in the ground, surmounted with a wreath 
of black paper the poor tribute of poverty-stricken 
grief. Jacques left the cemetery another creature 
from that he had entered it. He gazed joyfully at 
288 



Francine's Muff 

the glorious spring sun, the sun which had a thou- 
sand times gilded the hair of Francine as she passed 
through the fields toying with the tall grasses 
and wild flowers with her white hands. Sweet 
thoughts crowded into his mind. Passing a little 
cabaret on the outer boulevard, he recalled a day 
when, overtaken by a storm, he had entered the 
place with Francine and dined there. Jacques went 
in now, and, seating himself at the identical table, 
ordered dinner. The dessert was put in a plate 
painted with little pictures. He recognised the plate, 
and remembered how Francine spent a good half- 
hour trying to make out the rebus the pictures pre- 
sented ; and he also remembered a song she sang, 
inspired by some beautiful red wine that was not 
very expensive and contained more gaiety than 
juice of the grape. But these gentle memories 
awoke in him only the old love, not the grief. Prone 
to superstition as are all poetical and dreamy minds, 
Jacques imagined that it was Francine who, having 
heard him near her that morning, had sent him this 
handful of happy memories from the depths of 
her grave, and he would not dull them with a tear. 
He left the tavern with a light step, his head high, 
his eyes bright, his heart beating, almost a smile on 
his lips, and humming as he went the refrain of 
Francine's song : 

" Love's roaming 1 my way, 
I will open my door to him 
Wide as the day." 

This refrain in Jacques' mouth was a memory, 
but also it was a song ; and perhaps without being 
conscious of it, Jacques took that day the first step 
V 289 



The Latin Quarter 

along the road of transition which leads from sad- 
ness to melancholy, and thence to forgetfulness. 
Alas ! for what one would and what one does. 
The eternal and just law of change wills it to be 
thus. 

Even as the flowers which, born perhaps of Fran- 
cine's body, had pushed through her grave, the sap 
of youth flowed in Jacques' heart, where the memo- 
ries of the old love were wakening vague aspirations 
towards new loves. Moreover, Jacques was of the 
race of poets and artists who make passion an in- 
strument of art and of poetry, and whose souls 
live and move only by the heart's promptings. With 
Jacques invention was the true child of sentiment, 
and into everything he did he put something of 
himself. He began to feel that memories were 
no longer sufficient for him, and that his heart 
was grinding itself away for lack of sustenance, 
like a mill when grain is wanting. Work had no 
longer any charm for him ; invention, once ardent 
and spontaneous, no longer came without painful 
effort. He grew discontented, and almost envied 
the existence of his old friends the Water Drinkers. 

He sought distraction, snatched after pleasure 
and formed new ties. He chummed with the poet 
Rodolphe, whom he met in a cafe, and they con- 
ceived a great mutual sympathy. Jacques told him 
of all his wretchedness, and Rodolphe was not long 
in grasping the cause of it. 

" My friend," he said, " I know what that is," and 
tapping Jacques on the breast where his heart was, 
added, "Quick, and at once, you must rekindle the 
smouldering fire that lies there. Fan without delay 
a little passion, and ideas will return to you." 
290 



Francine's Muff 

" Ah," said Jacques, " I loved Francine too much 
for that ! " 

"That need not hinder you from still loving her. 
You will be kissing her on another's lips." 

"Ah," said Jacques, "if only I could meet with 
a girl like her ! " And he parted from Rodolphe 
deep in thought. 

* * * * * 

Six weeks later Jacques was his old self again, 
re-created by the tender glances of a pretty girl 
named Marie, whose too delicate beauty slightly 
reminded him of poor Francine. Nothing, in fact, 
could be lovelier than this Marie, who was eighteen 
years old, " all but six weeks," as she never failed to 
add. Her love-making with Jacques had begun in 
the moonlight, in the garden of an open-air ball, 
to the sound of a harsh violin, a consumptive double- 
bass and a clarionette that whistled like a blackbird. 
Jacques saw her as she promenaded gravely round 
the space reserved for dancing. Seeing him pass, 
stiff and bolt upright in his eternal black coat but- 
toned to the neck, the smart, giddy girls frequenting 
the place, who knew the artist by sight, exclaimed to 
each other 

" What does that death's-head of a creature want 
here ? Does anyone require burying ? " 

And Jacques walked on alone, his heart bleeding 
from the thorns of memory, which the orchestra was 
making sharper by its performance of a gay dance 
tune that sounded in his ears mournful as a De 
profundis. It was in the middle of his reveries that 
he perceived Marie looking at him from a corner 
and bursting with laughter at his solemn aspect. 
291 



The Latin Quarter 

Jacques lifted his eyes as he heard, not three steps 
away, this shout of laughter from under a pink 
hat. He approached the young 1 girl, and spoke a 
few words to her ; she responded. He offered her 
his arm for a promenade round the garden ; she 
accepted. He told her he thought her beautiful as 
an angel ; she made him say it twice. He stole 
green apples for her from the trees ; she munched 
them enjoyably, laughing loudly, which seemed like 
the refrain of her happy nature. Jacques thought 
of the Bible, and told himself that one need not 
despair with any women, and still less with those 
who were fond of apples. He took another turn 
with the pink hat round the garden, and so it 
came about that having gone to the ball alone, he 
did not return in the same fashion. 

He had not, however, forgotten Francine, and, 
following out Rodolphe's words, he kissed her every 
day on Marie's lips and worked in secret at the 
figure he intended to place on the dead girl's grave. 

One day, when he received some payments, 
Jacques bought a dress for Marie a black one. 
The young girl was very pleased, only she considered 
that black was not a cheerful colour for the summer ; 
but Jacques told her he was very fond of black, and 
that she would greatly please him by wearing the 
gown every day. Marie complied. 

One Saturday Jacques said to her, "Come early 
to-morrow; we will go into the country." 

" How delightful ! " said Marie. " I am prepar- 
ing a surprise for you. You will see, there will be 
sunshine to-morrow." 

Marie spent the night in finishing a new gown 
292 



Francine's Muff 

which she had saved up her money to buy, a pretty 
pink gown. And on Sunday morning she came 
dressed in her smart purchase to Jacques' studio. 

The artist received her coldly, almost savagely. 

"And I thought to give you so much pleasure in 
making myself a present of this lovely dress ! " said 
Marie, who could not comprehend Jacques' coldness. 

" We are not going into the country," he said. 
" You had better go away again. I have to work 
to-day." 

Marie went home with a swelling heart. On the 
way she met a young man who knew Jacques' story, 
and who had paid court to her. 

" Why, Mademoiselle Marie," said he, " you are 
no longer in mourning, I see." 

" In mourning? " said Marie. " For whom? " 

4 'What, you don't know? Yet it is known well 
enough by everyone. The black gown he gave 
you 

"Well?" said Marie. 

"Well, it was meant for mourning. Jacques 
made you wear mourning for Francine." 

From that day forward Jacques never saw Marie 
again. 

This rupture was unlucky for him. The bad days 
came back, he got no more work, and fell into 
fearful poverty. Not knowing what was to become 
of him, he begged his friend the doctor to get him 
admitted into the hospital. The doctor saw at the 
first glance that the admission would not be difficult 
to obtain. Jacques, who was aware of his own 
state of health, was on the way to rejoin Francine. 

He was received into the Hospital Saint Louis. 
293 



The Latin Quarter 

As he could still move about and walk, Jacques 
begged the superintendent of the hospital to give 
him a little disused room, and there he took a stool, 
his sculptor's tools and some clay. For the first 
couple of weeks he worked at the figure which he 
intended for Francine's tomb. It was a great angel 
with widespread wings. This figure, which was the 
likeness of Francine, was never quite finished, for 
Jacques soon became unable to mount his studio 
stairs, and in a short time he could no longer leave 
his bed. One day the note-book of the ward doctor 
came into his hands, and Jacques, seeing what 
remedies were prescribed for him, knew that he 
could not live. He wrote to his family, and called 
Sister Genevieve to him, who tended him with the 
greatest care. 

" Sister," said Jacques to her, " up in the room 
which you got them to lend me is a little plaster 
model. This statuette, which represents an angel, 
was intended to be placed on a grave, but I have 
not had time to do it in marble, although I have a 
splendid piece of it at home white marble, veined 
with pink. And so, sister, I give you my little 
statuette to put in the chapel of your community." 

Jacques died a few days later. As the funeral took 
place on the same day as the opening of the Salon 
the Water Drinkers did not assist at it. "Art 
before all," as Lazare had said. 

Jacques' family was not a rich one, and no special 
grave awaited him. 

He was buried somewhere. 



294 



XIX 

MUSETTE'S WHIMS 

IT will perhaps be remembered how the painter 
Marcel sold the Jew Me"decis his famous picture 
of "The Passage of the Red Sea," which ultimately 
did duty as a sign over the shop of a provision 
dealer. The day following its sale, which had 
been celebrated by a grand supper given by the Jew 
to the Bohemians as seal to the bargain, Marcel, 
Schaunard, Colline and Rodolphe got up very late. 
All of them still stupid with the indulgences of the 
previous night, they were unable at first to remember 
exactly what had happened, and as the midday 
Angelus rang from the steeple of a neighbouring 
church they looked at each other with melancholy 
smiles. 

"There is the bell whose pious sound calls 
humanity to the refectory," said Marcel. 

"Yes ; it is in fact," said Rodolphe, "the solemn 
hour when honest men repair to the dining-room." 

"We must find the way to become honest men," 
murmured Colline, for whom every day was the day 
of Saint Appetite. 

"Ah, milk-bottles of my nurse ! Ah, four meals a 
day of my childhood ! What has become of you? " 
added Schaunard. "What has become of you?" 
295 



The Latin Quarter 

he repeated in a key that was full of soft and dreamy 
melancholy. 

"I'll venture to say that in Paris at this moment 
there are more than a hundred thousand cutlets on 
the gridiron ! " said Marcel. 

" And as many rump steaks ! " chimed in Rodolphe. 

In ironical antithesis to the discussion of the four 
friends on the terrible daily problem of breakfast, the 
waiters of the restaurant close by were shrieking out 
the orders of consumers. 

"They will not cease, those brigands!" said 
Marcel. "Their every word is like a dig in my 
stomach ! " 

" The wind is in the north," gravely said Colline, 
pointing to a weather-vane twirling on a neighbour- 
ing roof. " We shall not have any breakfast to-day. 
The elements are opposed to it." 

" Why? " challenged Marcel. 

" It is an atmospherical observation I have made," 
continued the philosopher. " The north wind almost 
always signifies abstinence, just as a south wind 
ordinarily indicates pleasure and good cheer. That 
is what philosophy calls warnings from above." 

"To be taken fasting!" said Rodolphe, with a 
ferocious grin. 

At this moment Schaunard, who had thrust his 
hand into the abysmal space which served him for a 
pocket, dragged it out again with a yell of agony. 

" Help ! Ah ! there is someone in my pockets ! " 
he howled, as he struggled violently to free his hand 
from the claw of a live lobster. 

Suddenly another cry responded to his. It was 
Marcel, who having mechanically thrust his hands 
296 



Musette's Whims 

into his pockets, came upon an America which as 
yet had remained undiscovered ; that is to say, the 
hundred and fifty francs which the Jew Medecis had 
given him the night before for " The Passage of the 
Red Sea." Memory then returned all at once to 
the Bohemians. 

"Salute, gentlemen!" said Marcel, pouring on 
the table a handful of silver amid which gleamed five 
or six new louis. 

"They might be alive," said Colline. 

"What sweet voices!" said Schaunard, as he 
clinked the gold pieces together. 

" How pretty they are, these medals ! " said 
Rodolphe. " They might be scraps of the sun. If I 
were king, I would have no other money than these, 
and I would stamp my sweetheart's likeness on 
them." 

"When one thinks that there is a country full 
of gold nuggets," said Schaunand. "Formerly 
the Indians gave four for two sous. One of my 
relatives visited America. He was interred in the 
stomachs of the savages. It was a great wrong to 
his family." 

" Ah, yes ; but," said Marcel, looking at the lobster 
who had begun to walk about the room, "where 
does this beast come from ? " 

" I remember now," said Schaunard. " I made a 
tour of Medecis' kitchen, and the reptile must have 
tumbled into my pocket without meaning it. These 
creatures are short-sighted. Since I have him, I 
shall keep him," he added. " I should prefer to 
keep him. I will tame him and paint him in red. 
It will be more cheerful. I have felt melancholy 
since Phmie went away. He will be company." 
297 



The Latin Quarter 

"Gentlemen," cried Colline, " please to observe 
that the weather-vane has turned to the south. We 
will have breakfast." 

" We will, indeed," said Marcel, taking one of the 
pieces of gold ; " we will cook this one with plenty 
of sauce." 

Slowly and gravely they studied the carte. Each 
dish was the occasion of a discussion and voted on 
by the majority. The omelette soufflee, proposed by 
Schaunard, was rejected, as also were the white wines, 
against which Marcel inveighed in an improvisation 
which showed his vinous knowledge. 

"The first duty of wine is to be red," cried the 
artist. " Talk not to me of your white wines ! " 

" Yet," said Schaunard, " champagne ! " 

"Ah, rubbish! An elegant cider! An epileptic 
cocoa ! I would give all the cellars of Epernay and 
of AY for a bottle of Burgundy. Besides, we have 
no grisettes to entice, nor vaudevilles to write. I 
vote against champagne." 

The programme at last drawn up, Schaunard and 
Colline went down to the neighbouring restaurant to 
order the banquet. 

" What if we have a fire? " said Marcel. 

" All right," said Rodolphe. " We shan't be out 
of the fashion. The thermometer has suggested it 
this long time past. The chimney will be greatly 
astonished." 

And they ran to the top of the stairs and called to 
Colline to send up some wood. 

A few minutes after, Schaunard and Colline came 
up again, followed by a man with a huge load of 
faggots. 

298 



Musette's Whims 

While Marcel was rummaging in his drawer for 
some waste paper to light the fire with, he chanced 
upon a letter whose handwriting gave him a fit of 
trembling, and he hid it from his friends as he fell to 
reading it. 

It was written in pencil by Musette in days gone 
by, while she lived with Marcel. This note was a 
year old to the day. It contained only a few 
words : 

"Mv DEAR FRIEND, Do not be uneasy about me ; I shall 
be back soon. I have gone out a little way to warm myself 
with a walk. It freezes, and there is no fuel. I have broken 
up the last two chair-leg's, but they did not burn long- enough 
to boil an egg. The wind comes in, blowing- me a lot of bad 
advice which would vex you if I listened to it. I would rather 
go out for a little while. I am going to look at the shops 
round about. They say there is velvet being sold at ten francs 
a yard. We shall see if it is true. It seems incredible. I 
will be back to dinner. " MUSETTE." 

"Poor girl!" murmured Marcel, slipping the 
letter into his pocket, and for a minute he remained 
lost in thought, his head in his hands. At this time 
the Bohemians had been for a good while past in a 
state of widower-hood, with the exception of Colline, 
however, whose mistress had always been invisible 
and anonymous. 

Phdmie, Schaunard's amiable companion, had met 
with an ingenuous soul who had offered her his 
heart, some mahogany furniture and a ring made 
of his hair, which was red. A fortnight after he 
had given it her, however, Ph&nie's lover wanted 
back his heart and his furniture, because he had 
noticed in looking at her hands that she had a hair- 
ring black hair and he suspected her of treason. 
299 



The Latin Quarter 

Nevertheless Phemie had not ceased to be true, 
only, as some of her friends had joked her about the 
red hair, she had had it dyed black. The gentleman 
was so pleased with the explanation that he bought 
Phemie a silk gown. It was the first she had ever 
had. The day he gave it to her the poor child 
cried, "Now I could die." 

As to Musette, she had almost become an official 
personage, and for three or four months Marcel had 
seen nothing of her. As for Mimi, Rodolphe had 
never so much as heard her name mentioned except 
by himself when he was alone. 

" Oh ! " cried Rodolphe, seeing Marcel lost in his 
reverie at the corner of the mantelshelf, "this fire 
will not catch." 

"There, that's it," said the painter, lighting his 
waste paper under the wood, which began to flare 
and crackle gloriously, while his friends whetted 
their appetites with preparations for the meal. 
Marcel stood thoughtfully apart, and put Musette's 
letter which accident had placed in his hands 
into a drawer with several other souvenirs of 
her. All at once he remembered the address of 
a girl who was an intimate friend of his old 
love. 

"Ah!" he cried, loud enough to be heard, "I 
know where to find her ! " 

"Find what? "said Rodolphe. "What are you 
doing there ? " he added, as his friend sat down to 
write. 

"Nothing only a very particular letter which I 
had forgotten. I will be with you in an instant," 
replied Marcel, and he wrote 
300 



Musette's Whims 

"Mv DEAR CHILD, I have money in my secretaire, a 
plethora of astounding luck. There is a grand breakfast pre- 
paring, good wine, and we have made a fire, my dear, like 
the well-to-do folks. It is 'a thing to see,' as you once said. 
Come and spend a minute or two with us. You will find 
Rodolphe here, Colline and Schaunard. You shall sing us 
songs at dessert, for there is going to be dessert. Being there, 
we shall probably remain at table for a week. Don't be afraid, 
therefore, of being too late. It is so long since I heard your 
laugh. Rodolphe shall make madrigals for you, and we will 
drink all sorts of things in memory of our dead loves, indepen- 
dently of their coming to life again. Among people of our 
sort the last kiss is never the last. Ah ! if it had not been so 
cold last year, perhaps you would not have left me. You were 
false to me for the sake of a faggot, and because you were 
afraid of having red hands. You did well. I only want you 
now for this once for the sake of the others. Come and have 
a warm while there is still some fire. I embrace you as much 
as you may desire it. " MARCEL." 

This letter finished, Marcel wrote another to 
Madame Sidonie, Musette's friend, in which he 
asked her to send on the enclosure addressed to 
Musette. Then he went downstairs and asked 
the porter to take the letter and deliver it. As he 
paid him his fee in advance, the porter caught sight 
of a piece of gold shining through his fingers, and 
before starting on his errands he went to the land- 
lord, with whom Marcel was in arrears with his 
rent. 

" Monsieur," he said breathlessly, " the artist on 
the sixth floor has got some money ! You know, 
the tall fellow who laughs in my face when I take 
him your accounts." 

" Yes," said the landlord, "the man who had the 
audacity to borrow money of me to give me on 
account. He has notice to quit." 

"Yes, monsieur, but he is covered with gold 
301 



The Latin Quarter 

to-day. It perfectly dazzled my eyes just now. He 
is giving entertainments. Now is the time." 

" Quite so," said the landlord ; "I will go up to 
him instantly." 

Madame Sidonie, who was at home when Marcel's 
letter was delivered, despatched her maid imme- 
diately with the letter for Musette, who occupied 
charming apartments in the Chaussee d'Antin. 
She was entertaining company when the letter 
was handed to her, and in the evening she was 
going to have a dinner-party." 

" Here is a strange thing ! " cried Musette, laugh- 
ing heartily. 

"What is it?" asked a handsome young man, 
straight and stiff as a statuette. 

" It is an invitation to dinner," said Musette. 
" Eh, what do you think of that? " 

" I don't think anything of it," said the young 
man. 

4 'Why? "said Musette. 

" What ! you don't think of accepting it? " 

"I know that I do; you must manage by your- 
self." 

" But, my dear, it is not possible. You must go 
another time." 

"Ah, that's a fine notion that. Another time! 
It is an old acquaintance, Marcel, who invites me, 
and it will be such a curious thing for me to 
meet him again. Another time ! Why! real dinners 
are as rare as eclipses in that house." 

"What! you would upset everything to go and 
see this person," said the young man, "and you 
say it to me ? " 

302 



Musette's Whims 

"Whom else should I say it to the great 
Mogul ? What does Marcel care ? " 

" But really, you are amazingly frank." 

"You know very well that I don't do as other 
people do," replied Musette. 

" But what would you think of me if I were to let 
you go, knowing where you go ? Reflect a minute, 
Musette ; for me for yourself it would be most 
inconvenient. You must make your excuses to this 
young man." 

"My dear Monsieur Maurice," said Musette, 
in very firm tones, "you knew me before you took 
me. You knew I was full of whims and caprices, 
and that no creature living could ever boast of 
making me change my mind." 

"Ask me what you please," began Maurice, " but 
that no, there are caprices and caprices " 

" Maurice, I am going to Marcel's. I am going," 
and she fetched her hat and put it on. "You 
can give me up if you please. His will is stronger 
than mine. He is the best man in the world, and 
the only one I have ever loved. If his heart had 
been made of gold, he would have melted it down to 
make into rings for me. Poor fellow ! " she went 
on, showing Maurice her letter, "as there is a bit 
of fire he invites me to come and warm myself! 
Ah, if he were not so lazy and there had not been 
such lovely silks and velvets in the shops ! I was 
very happy with him. He had the power of making 
me feel, and it was he who gave me the name of 
Musette, because of my singing. At least, in going 
to him you know that I shall return to you, unless 
you shut the door in my face." 
303 



The Latin Quarter 

" You could not put it more frankly that you don't 
love me," said the young man. 

" Come, come, my dear Maurice, you are a man 
of too much intelligence for us to engage in serious 
argument on this subject. You own me like a fine 
horse in your stable. As for me, I like you 
because I like luxury, the noise and stir of concerts 
and fetes, everything which has a merry sound and 
a bright glitter. Don't let us indulge in sentiment. 
It would be ridiculous and useless." 

" At least let me go with you." 

"But you wouldn't be at all amused," said 
Musette, "and you would hinder us from amusing 
ourselves. Bear in mind that he will kiss me, this 
young man inevitably he will." 

"Musette," said Maurice, "have you often met 
with such an accommodating creature as I am ? " 

"Monsieur le Vicomte," replied Musette, "one 
day, when I was driving in the Champs Elysees 

with Lord , I saw Marcel and his friend 

Rodolphe going along on foot, both very shabbily 
dressed, muddy as sheep-dogs and smoking their 
pipes. It was three months since I had seen Marcel, 
and it seemed as if my heart must fly out of the 
window to him. I stopped the carriage and we 
chatted together for half an hour before all Paris 
passing in its fine carriages. Marcel offered me 
some Nanterre cakes and a bunch of violets he 
bought for a sou, which I fastened in my waistband. 

When he went away Lord wanted to call him 

back to ask him to dine with us. I kissed him for 

thinking of it and there you have my character, 

my dear Monsieur Maurice. If it doesn't please 

34 



Musette's Whims 

you, you had better say so at once, and I will go 
and fetch away my slippers and my nightcap." 

" It seems as if sometimes it is a good thing to be 
poor," said Viscount Maurice, in tones weighted 
with curious sadness. 

"Oh no," said Musette, "if Marcel had been rich, 
I should never have left him." 

"Go, then," said the young man, warmly clasp- 
ing her hand. "You have on your new dress," he 
added, "which suits you admirably." 

"Why, yes, it does. What a lucky chance that 
it came home this morning ! Marcel will have the 
freshness of it. Adieu ! " she added as she went. 
" I am going to eat a few morsels of the blessed 
bread of gaiety." 

Musette had on a ravishingly exquisite toilette that 
day. Never had a more seductive cover clothed the 
poem of her youth and beauty. Musette, in addition 
to this, instinctively owned the genius for elegance. 
When she came into the world the first thing her 
eyes fixed on was a mirror, to see how she looked 
in her swaddling-clothes ; and before she was 
christened she knew the sin of coquetry. In the 
days when her position was of the humblest, when 
her wardrobe still consisted only of print dresses, 
little bonnets with sarcenet bows, and leather shoes, 
she wore the simple dress of a work-girl with ex- 
quisite grace. Such pretty girls as she, half bees, half 
grasshoppers, who worked with merry songs on 
their lips all the week, only asking heaven for a 
little sunshine on Sundays, made cheap love with all 
their hearts, and occasionally finished by throwing 
themselves out of the window. They are a lost race 
x 305 



The Latin Quarter 

nowadays, thanks to the present race of young 
men a corrupted and corrupting generation, en- 
crusted with vanity, stupidity and caddishness. For 
the pleasure of making vile paradoxes, they jeer 
at these poor girls because of hands scarred 
with the holy wounds of industrious toil, which 
do not earn enough to buy a pot of almond paste. 
Gradually they have succeeded in inoculating their 
vanity and foolishness, and so the grisette no longer 
exists. It is thus the lorette has come into being, a 
hybrid race of impudent creatures with mediocre 
beauty, half flesh, half pomatum, whose boudoirs 
are counting-houses where they deal out their 
morsels of heart as one cuts a slice of beef. The 
greater part of these girls, who are a disgrace and 
blot upon pleasure, and the shame of modern 
gallantry, have frequently not the intelligence of 
the creatures whose feathers decorate their bonnets. 
If it happens by any chance that they have no love 
affair on hand, not even a fancy, but simply vulgar 
desire, they crowd after and applaud some common- 
place mime whom the newspapers advertise, lovers 
of everything ridiculous, by their puffs. Notwith- 
standing she was forced to live in their world, 
Musette had not the manners or the trickeries of 
these women ; she had none of the servile cupidity 
of those who can only write figures, and read 
nothing but Bareme. She was an intelligent, bright 
girl, with some gentle blood in her veins, and, 
rebelling against any sort of restraint or coercion, 
she had never resisted any fancy that came into her 
mind, let the consequences be what they might. 
Marcel had been the one man she had ever loved. 
306 



Musette's Whims 

He was in any case the only one for whom she had 
suffered, and it had demanded all the obstinacy of 
the instincts which magnetised her towards "all that 
sounds gayest, all that shines bright," to draw her 
away from him. She was twenty, and luxury for 
her was almost a question of health. She could 
dispense with it for a time, but she could not re- 
nounce it completely. Conscious of her own in- 
constancy, she had never consented to bind her 
heart in the chains of sworn fidelity. She had been 
ardently loved by many for whom she had a real 
liking, and she always treated them with a circum- 
spect honesty. The engagements she contracted 
were simple, frank and rustic as the love declara- 
tions of Moliere's peasants "You have an inclina- 
tion towards me, and I like you. Done, we will be 
wed." A dozen times, had she wished, Musette 
might have secured a stable position, such as is 
called " a future," but she had small faith in futures, 
entertaining the scepticism of Figaro in regard to 
them. 

"To-morrow," she would say, "is just an almanack 
absurdity ; it is a daily pretext invented by men for 
not doing their business to-day. To-morrow there 
may be an earthquake. No time like the present. 
To-day, that is terra-firma" 

One day a worthy man with whom she had kept 
company for six months, and who had become 
madly in love with her, proposed marriage to her. 
Musette burst into a shout of laughter at the 
proposition. 

" I imprison my freedom in a marriage contract? 
Not I ! " she said. 

307 



The Latin Quarter 

" But I pass my life trembling with the fear of 
losing you." 

"You would lose me much sooner if I were your 
wife," replied Musette. "Don't let us talk more 
about it. Besides, I am not free," she added, think- 
ing, no doubt, of Marcel. 

So her life sped on, her spirit turning to meet 
all the winds of the unexpected, giving much 
happiness, and almost happy herself. Viscomte 
Maurice, with whom she was at present, had a 
good deal of trouble in accommodating himself to 
her dauntless nature, so intoxicated with the idea 
of liberty ; and it was with an impatience en- 
crusted with jealousy that he awaited the return of 
Musette after seeing her leave the house to go to 
Marcel's. 

"Will she stop there?" the young man kept 
asking himself all the evening, digging the note of 
interrogation into his heart. 

"Poor Maurice!" said Musette on her side. 
" He found it a trifle rough. Ah, but youth must 
be educated." Then her mind passed suddenly to 
other fields and pastures ; she thought of Marcel 
to whom she was hastening, and as she passed in 
review the memories conjured up by the name of 
her old admirer, she wondered what miracle had 
spread his cloth for him. She re-read as she 
walked, the letter that the artist had sent her, and 
could not help feeling a little saddened. But that 
soon passed. Musette thought, with perfect reason, 
that there was less occasion than ever to be sad, 
and when just at the moment a gust of wind swept 
past her, she exclaimed to herself 



Musette's Whims 

11 How odd it is ! I never go to Marcel's but the 
wind blows me on there." 

And continuing her way, she pressed on gaily as a 
bird flying home to its own nest. All at once the 
snow began to fall. Musette looked round in search 
of a cab. She could not see one. As she found 
herself in the street in which her friend Madame 
Sidonie lived, Musette took it into her head to call 
in on her to wait till the snow had passed over. 
When Musette entered Madame Sidonie's room she 
found a large company assembled. They were' 
carrying on a game of lansquenet, begun three 
days previously. 

"Don't disturb yourselves," said Musette. " I 
am only in and out again." 

"You have had Marcel's letter?" whispered 
Madame Sidonie in her ear. 

"Yes," replied Musette, "thank you I am 
going to him. He invites me to dinner. Will you 
come with me? You will enjoy yourself very 
much." 

"Ah, no, I can't," said Sidonie, pointing to the 
table ; " and my turn ? " she cried. 

"There are six louis," called the banker, who 
held the cards. 

" I make two ! " cried Madame Sidonie. 

" I am not proud, I bet on two," replied the 
banker, who had passed several times. " King and 
ace I am done," he continued, letting the cards fall. 
" All the kings are dead." 

" No politics," said a journalist. 

" And the ace is the foe of my family," concluded 
the banker, who again turned up a king. " Long 
309 



The Latin Quarter 

live the King ! " cried he. " My dear Sidonie, send 
me two louis." 

"Well, put them down in your memory," said 
Sidonie, furious at her loss. 

"That makes five hundred francs you owe, my 
dear," said the banker. "You are on the way to a 
thousand. I pass." 

Sidonie and Musette chatted on in low tones ; the 
players continued. 

At about the same moment the Bohemians sat 
down to table. Marcel seemed ill at ease. Each 
time footsteps sounded on the stairs outside, the 
others saw him start and tremble. 

"What is the matter with you?" demanded 
Rodolphe. "One would think you were expecting 1 
somebody. Aren't our numbers complete ? " 

But a certain glance that the artist cast at him 
made him understand his friend's perturbation. 

"Truly no," he said to himself, "we are not 
complete." 

Marcel's glance signified Musette ; Rodolphe's 
gaze was eloquent of Mimi. 

" It wants women," suddenly said Schaunard. 

"Good heavens!" thundered Colline. "Can't 
you be quiet with your libertine ideas ? It has been 
agreed that we will not talk of love. It turns the 
sauces sour ! " 

And the friends began to drink larger bumpers, 
while outside the snow fell and the logs on the 
hearth crackled and flamed their fireworks. 

Just at the instant Rodolphe was trolling the 
couplet of a song he had found at the bottom of his 
glass there came knocks at the door. 
310 



Musette's Whims 

At the sound, like a diver thrusting with his 
foot against the bottom to remount to the surface, 
Marcel, excited by the wine he had drunk, rose 
hurriedly and rushed to open the door. 

It was not Musette. 

A gentleman was standing on the threshold. He 
held a small paper in his hand. His exterior was 
agreeable, but his dressing-gown was very badly 
made. 

" I find you in good case," he said, glancing at 
the remains of a huge leg of mutton gracing the 
middle of the table. 

" The landlord," said Rodolphe. " Let us render 
him the honours which are his due " ; and he tapped 
for order on his plate with his knife and fork. 

Colline offered him his chair, and Marcel cried 

"Now then, Schaunard, a glass for the gentle- 
man. You come opportunely," added the artist 
to the landlord. "We were just about to pro- 
pose a toast to this establishment. My friend 
there, Monsieur Colline, was saying some very 
touching things. Since you are here, he will begin 
again in honour of your visit. Begin again a little, 
Colline." 

" Excuse me, gentlemen, I do not wish to disturb 
you " ; and he opened the little folded paper in his 
hand. 

" What is this document? " asked Marcel. 

The landlord, who had made an inquisitorial tour 
of the room, had spied out the gold and silver still 
lying on the mantelpiece. 

" It is the account for the rent," he said hurriedly. 
" I have already had the honour of placing it before 
you." 

3" 



The Latin Quarter 

" Quite so," said Marcel ; "my unerring memory 
perfectly well recalls the circumstance. It was on a 
Friday, the eighth of October, at half-past twelve. 
Very good." 

" It bears my signature," said the landlord, " and 
if it is not inconvenient to you " 

"Monsieur," said Marcel, "I was proposing to 
myself an interview with you. I have a good deal 
I wish to say to you." 

" I am quite at your service." 

"Do me the pleasure, then, of refreshing your- 
self," continued Marcel, making the man drink 
another glass of wine. "Monsieur," continued 
the artist, "you recently sent me a little bit of 
paper bearing a representation of a lady who is 
holding a pair of scales. The message on it was 
signed 'Godard.'" 

"That is my bailiff," said the landlord. 

" He writes execrably," said Marcel. " My friend 
there," he went on, indicating Colline, "who is 
widely acquainted with languages, wanted to trans- 
late this document, whose porterage cost five francs." 

" It was a notice to quit," said the landlord "a 
precautionary measure the usual " 

"A notice to quit. It was so," said Marcel. " I 
wished to see you that we might confer together 
upon this document, which I should desire to convert 
into a lease. This house pleases me ; the staircase 
is clean, the street is very cheerful, and then family 
reasons a thousand things attach me to these 
walls." 

" But," said the landlord, fingering his account, 
"there is the last quarter to settle for." 
312 



Musette's Whims 

' 'We will settle it, monsieur; that is my fullest 
intention." 

Nevertheless, the landlord did not take his eyes 
from the mantelshelf where the money lay, and the 
fixity of his looks, filled with acquisitiveness, was so 
great that the pieces almost seemed to be rising up 
and moving towards him. 

" I am fortunate to have arrived at a moment 
when it does not inconvenience you. We can bring 
the little matter to an agreeable conclusion," he said, 
handing the account to Marcel, who, no longer able 
to parry the attack, changed his tactics and recom- 
menced with the scene of Don Juan with Monsieur 
Dimanche. 

"You have, I believe," he said, " estates in the 
country?" 

" Oh," said the landlord, " very little of that. A 
small house in Burgundy a farm worth little 
enough. Poor connection ; farmers don't pay. 
And as to this," he added, still holding out his bill, 
"it will come in very handy. It is sixty francs, as 
you are aware " 

"Sixty. Yes," said Marcel, making his way to 
the chimney-piece, from which he took three pieces 
of gold, "let us say sixty." And he placed the 
three pieces on the table at some distance from the 
landlord. 

"At last!" murmured he, with a brightening 
countenance, and he laid his paper on the table. 

Schaunard, Colline and Rodolphe looked on with 
disturbed gaze. 

"Monsieur," said Marcel, "since you are a Bur- 
gundian you will not refuse to speak a few words to 



The Latin Quarter 

a compatriot " ; and sending the cork flying from a 
bottle of old Macon, he poured out a bumper of it 
for the landlord. 

"Ah, perfection ! " said he, smacking his lips ; " I 
never tasted finer." 

"I have an uncle living down that way, and 
he sends me a basket or two of it now and 
again." 

The landlord rose, stretching out his hand towards 
the money, but Marcel stopped him again. 

"You will not refuse to pledge me once again," 
he said, filling the glass again and forcing his 
creditor to clink glasses with him and the three 
other Bohemians. 

The landlord dared not refuse. He drank again, 
put down his glass, and was about to take up the 
money, when Marcel said 

"A moment, monsieur; I have an idea. I find 
myself a little in funds just now ; my Burgundy 
uncle has sent me a supplement to my income. 
I am afraid of wasting this money. Youth, you 
know, is giddy. If you do not object, I will pay 
you in advance " ; and counting sixty more francs 
from the silver money, he added them to the louis 
on the table. 

" In that case I will give you a receipt to the date 
of expiry. I have a blank form in my pocket," 
added the landlord, taking out his pocket-book. " I 
will fill it in and duly date it. What a delightful 
man this lodger ! " thought Marcel's creditor, devour- 
ing the hundred and twenty francs with his eyes. 

At this proposition the three Bohemians, who did 
not grasp Marcel's diplomacy, stared blankly. 



Musette's Whims 

"But this chimney smokes. It is exceedingly 
inconvenient," said Marcel. 

" Why have you not told me of it? I would have 
sent for the sweep," said the landlord, who would 
not be wanting in anything on his part. " I will 
order the workmen." And having finished filling 
up the second receipt form, he put it with the other, 
and pushing both of them in front of Marcel he 
stretched his hand once more towards the heap of 
silver. "You cannot conceive how opportunely 
this money comes in. I have bills to pay for repair 
of fixtures, and I was in great embarrassment." 

" I regret having made you wait," said Marcel. 

" Oh, I was not in distress, gentlemen. I have 

the honour ," and his fingers began clawing 

again. 

" Ah ! ah ! allow me ! " said Marcel. * l We are not 
at the end of it yet. You know the saying, * When 

the wine is poured out ' ? " and he replenished 

the landlord's glass. 

"One must drink." 

"Quite right," smiled the creditor, sitting down 
again out of politeness. 

A glance from Marcel now made it clear to the 
others what his intention was. 

The landlord began to talk the most extraordinary 
rubbish. He tilted himself back in his chair, making 
extravagant promises to Marcel concerning the 
embellishments of his room. 

"Now forward with the big artillery," said the 
artist in an undertone to Rodolphe, pointing to a 
bottle of rum. 

After the first little glass of it the landlord sang a 



The Latin Quarter 

ditty that made Schaunard blush. After the second 
little glass he related his conjugal misfortunes, and 
as his wife's name was Helen he compared himself 
to Menelaus. After the third little glass he had an 
access of philosophy, and fired off aphorisms of this 
nature 

" Life is a river." 

" Fortune does not make happiness." 

" Man is ephemeral." 

" Ah, love is agreeable." 

And taking Schaunard for his confidant, he re- 
counted to him a clandestine affair he had with a 
young girl he had put in clover who was called 
Euphemie ; and he painted such an accurate word- 
portrait of this young person, who was so full of 
ingenuous tenderness, that strange suspicions began 
to cross Schaunard's mind, and they assumed definite 
shape when the landlord showed him a letter which 
he drew from his pocket-book. 

" Oh, heavens ! " cried Schaunard, recognising the 
signature. "Cruel girl! What daggers you drive 
into my heart ! " 

"What is the matter?" cried the Bohemians, 
startled by his exclamations. 

"Look!" said Schaunard; "this letter is from 
Phemie. " See the smudge which serves for signa- 
ture," and he handed on the letter of his former 
sweetheart. It began thus 

"Mv DEAR BIG LouF-Lour, " 

"It is I who am her louf-louf," said the land- 
lord, as he tried to get up from his chair without 
succeeding. 



Musette's Whims 

" All right ! " said Marcel. " He has cast anchor." 

" Phtknie ! Cruel Phemie ! " murmured Schaunard. 
" What suffering- you cause me ! " 

" I have furnished a little room for her at number 
12, Rue Coquenard," went on the landlord. "She 
is pretty, very pretty. It cost me a lot of money, 
but true love knows nothing of money, and I have an 
income of twenty thousand francs. She asks me for 
money," he continued, taking back his letter. " Poor 
darling ! I am going to give it her. It will please 
her," and he stretched out his hands towards Marcel's 
little pile. " Dear me ! Dear me ! " he went on in 
puzzled tones, feeling all over the table. "Where 
is it?" 

The money had disappeared. 

" It is impossible to conceive that a man of honour 
should lend himself to such doings," said Marcel. 
" My conscience ! Morality forbids me to pour the 
price of my earnings into the hands of this old 
debauchee ; I will not pay my rent, and my soul will 
not know remorse on that account. What conduct ! 
A bald-headed old fellow like that ! " 

The landlord continued to maunder on, and ad- 
dressed his discourse mainly to the bottles. As he 
had been away quite two hours, his wife, uneasy 
about him, sent her servant to see after him. 
She began to scream when she saw him. 

" What have you been doing to my master? " she 
demanded of the Bohemians. 

" Nothing," said Marcel. "He came up here a 
little while ago to ask for his rent ; as we had 
no money to give him we asked him for time." 

" But he is drunk," said the servant. 



The Latin Quarter 

" The greater part of that business had been done 
when he came," replied Rodolphe. " He told us 
that he had been putting his wine-cellars in order." 

" And he was so careless," continued Colline, " that 
he was going to leave us the receipts without the 
money." 

"You had better give them to his wife," added 
the painter, handing the maid the receipts. "We 
are honest persons, and we do not want to profit by 
his condition." 

"Oh, good gracious! What will my mistress 
say ! " said the servant, clutching at her master, who 
could not stand steady on his legs, as she dragged 
him out. 

"At last!" cried Marcel. 

" He will come back to-morrow," said Rodolphe. 
" He saw the money." 

"When he comes back," said the artist, " I shall 
threaten him with informing his wife of his relations 
with Mademoiselle Phe"mie, and then he will give us 
time." 

When the landlord was well away from the place 
the four friends began to drink and smoke. Only 
Marcel kept something of a clear head. Every 
moment, at the slightest sound of footsteps on the 
stairs, he kept running to open the door ; but the 
people coming up always turned in at the doors of 
the landings below, and the artist returned slowly 
back to his corner of the fireplace. Midnight struck, 
and Musette had not come. 

"Ah, well," thought Marcel, "perhaps she was 
not in when my letter was delivered. She will find 
it this evening on her return home, and she will 



Musette's Whims 

come to-morrow. It is not possible that she will 
refuse to come. And so till to-morrow." And he 
settled himself to sleep in his corner by the fire. 

Just at the time Marcel was falling asleep dream- 
ing of her Musette was leaving Madame Sidonie's 
house, where she had remained all day. Musette 
was not alone ; she was accompanied by a young 
man. A cab was at the door, and they both got in. 
The cab went off at a sharp pace. 

Madame Sidonie's party of lansquenet continued. 

" Where is Musette ? " suddenly cried someone. 

4 'Yes, and where is little S&raphin?" said 
another. 

Madame Sidonie began to laugh. 

"They have gone off together," she said. " Ah, 
it is a curious story ! What a strange creature 
Musette is ! Only fancy -- 

And she told them all. How Musette, after nearly 
having a rupture with Vicomte Maurice, started to 
go to Marcel, and having looked in upon her on the 
way had met young S6raphin. 

" Ah, I suspected something of it," said Sidonie, 
breaking off in the middle of her tale. " I have 
been watching them all the evening. He is no 
fool, this little fellow. In short," she continued, 
"they went off without a word of warning, 
and who stops them will be clever. But it is 
very odd, when one thinks how Musette adores her 
Marcel." 

" If she so adores him, what is the good of Se>a- 
phin ? He is almost a child. He has never had a 
sweetheart," said a young man. 

She wants to teach him to read," said a 



" 



The Latin Quarter 

journalist who always talked nonsense when he 
had lost. 

"Yes," said Sidonie, "since she loves Marcel, 
why Seraphin? It passes my comprehension." 

Alas ! yes, why ? 



For five days, without leaving the house, the 
Bohemians spent a rare time of it. All day long 
they feasted. An admirable disorder prevailed in 
the room, which acquired a Pantagruelic aspect. 
Upon a bank of oyster-shells lay an army of bottles 
of all shapes and sizes. The table was strewn with 
debris of all kinds, and a forest of wood flamed up 
the chimney. On the sixth day Colline, who was 
master of the ceremonies, revised, as he did every 
morning, the programme for breakfast, lunch, dinner 
and supper, submitting it to the approval of his 
friends, each of them affixing his signature in token 
of acquiescence. But when one morning Colline 
opened the cash drawer to take out the necessary 
amount for the day's expenditure, he stepped back 
with a startled air, and grew pale as Banquo's 
ghost. 

"What is the matter?" carelessly asked the 
others. 

"The matter is that there are only thirty sous 
left," said the philosopher. 

" Oh, the devil ! the devil ! " cried the others. 

" We must make amendments in the programme." 

"Well, thirty sous is something, but we shall 
scarcely get truffles." 

A few minutes later the table was laid. Three 
dishes were ranged symmetrically upon it 
320 



Musette's Whims 

A dish of herrings. 

A dish of potatoes. 

A dish of cheese. 

Two small logs, about as big as a fist, burned in 
the grate. 

Outside the snow was still falling heavily. The 
four Bohemians sat down to table, gravely opening 
their serviettes. 

"It is curious," said Marcel, "this herring has 
quite the flavour of pheasant." 

"That comes from the style in which I have 
arranged it on the dish," said Colline ; "the mere 
herring would have been despised." 

At that instant a merry song came up the stairs, 
and a tap sounded on the door. Marcel, trembling 
from head to foot, ran to open it. 

Musette sprang to his breast, and hung about his 
neck for ever so long. Marcel felt her whole frame 
trembling in his embrace. 

" What is the matter? " asked he. 

" I am cold," she said mechanically, as she crossed 
to the hearth. 

"Ah," said Marcel, "and we made such a nice 
fire." 

" Yes," said Musette, gazing round at the remains 
of the banquet which had lasted so many days, " I 
have come too late." 

" Why have you? " said Marcel. 

"Why?" said Musette, reddening a little as she 
seated herself on Marcel's knee, still trembling, and 
her hands purple with cold. 

"Weren't you free to come?" whispered Marcel 
in her ear. 

v 321 



The Latin Quarter 

"I not free!" cried the girl. " Ah, Marcel, I 
might be seated among the stars in paradise, and if 
you beckoned to me to come to you I would come. 
I not free ! " And again she shivered. 

1 ' There are five chairs here, " said Rodolphe. "It 
is an odd number, without counting in the ridiculous 
shape of the fifth." And breaking up the chair 
against the wall, he threw the pieces in the fire. 
The flames broke into clear, joyous brilliancy ; then, 
making signs to Colline and Schaunard, the poet 
dragged them away with him out of the room. 

" Where are you going? " asked Marcel. 

"To buy tobacco," replied they. 

" Havana," added Schaunard, with a wink of in- 
telligence at Marcel, who thanked him by a look. 

"Why did you not come sooner?" he asked 
Musette again when they found themselves alone. 

"To be sure, I am a little late." 

" Five days for getting across the Pont Neuf. 
You must have taken the road by the Pyrenees ! " 
said Marcel. 

Musette hung her head, and remained silent. 

" Ah, naughty girl," sadly went on Marcel, lightly 
tapping his finger on her breast, "what have you 
got in there ? " 

" You know well enough," quickly replied she. 

"But what have you been doing since I wrote 
to you?" 

" Don't ask me ! " she hurriedly replied, embracing 
him again and again. "Don't ask me anything. 
Only let me warm myself here beside you while 
it is cold. You see, I have put on my prettiest 
gown to come. Poor Maurice, he couldn't under- 
322 



Musette's Whims 

stand it at all when I left him to come here ; but 
it was stronger than I and I started to come. 

That is nice. This fire " She broke off, 

stretching her little hands over the flame. "I will 
stay with you till to-morrow. Will you like me to 
do so?" 

" It will be very cold here," said Marcel, " and we 
have nothing for dinner. You have come too late," 
he said again. 

" Ah, nonsense ! " said Musette. " That will only 
be like the old days." 

***** 

Rodolphe, Colline and Schaunard stopped away 
twenty-four hours buying their tobacco. When they 
returned Marcel was alone, and after being a week 
away, Viscount Maurice saw Musette back again. 

He did not reproach her in any way ; he only asked 
her why she seemed so sad. 

" I quarrelled with Marcel," she said. " We 
parted in anger." 

" Nevertheless," said Maurice, " you will return to 
him one of these days." 

4 'What if I do?" cried Musette. "I need to 
breathe the air of that kind of life from time to 
time. My foolish existence is like a song. Each of 
my love affairs is a couplet but Marcel is its 
refrain." 



323 



XX 

MIMI HAS FEATHERS 

I 

H ! no, no, no, you are no longer Lisette. Oh ! 
no, no, no, you are no longer Mimi. 
"You are now Madame la Vicomtesse ; in due 
time you will be Madame la Duchesse, for you have 
set foot on the rungs of the ladder of greatness ; 
the door of your dreams has at last been flung wide 
open to you, and here you are entering victorious 
and triumphant. I was sure it would end like this 
for you one day or other. It was bound to be so ; 
your white hands were made for idleness, and have 
long called for the ring of an aristocratic alliance. 
Now you have a coat of arms ! But we preferred the 
one which youth gave your beauty, which with your 
pale face and blue eyes seemed like gleams of azure 
upon a bed of lilies. Noble or lowly, there you are 
always charming, and I readily recognised you when 
you passed me the other evening in the street, with 
your fleet feet so exquisitely shod, helping the wind 
with your gloved hand to lift the flounces of your 
new dress, partly to protect them from the mud, 
much more to allow your fine silk stockings and your 
embroidered petticoats to be seen. You had an en- 
chanting hat, and you were lost in profound study of 
the matter of arranging your beautiful lace veil. A 
324 



Mimi has Feathers 

serious matter indeed, for it took in the consideration 
whether it better became you to wear the veil lowered 
or lifted. In wearing- it down you risked not being 
recognised by any friends you might meet, who 
undoubtedly might have passed you a dozen times 
without being aware that the rich lace was hiding 
Mademoiselle Mimi from sight. On the other hand, 
wearing the veil raised risked its beauty being hidden, 
and then what was the use of it ? You skilfully split 
the difficulty by lowering and lifting alternately, every 
few steps you took, the marvellous fabric woven 
seemingly in that country of the Arachnida called 
Flanders, which cost alone more than all your entire 
collection of raiment in old days. Ah, Mimi pardon 
me ah, Madame la Vicomtesse, I was quite right, 
you see, when I said to you, ' Patience, do not 
despair ; the future is big with cashmeres, jewels, 
little suppers, etcetera.' You would not believe 
me, you incredulous child. Well, my predictions 
are realised nevertheless, and I am as good as The 
Ladies^ Oracle^ the little book of magic which you 
bought for five sous at the Pont Neuf bookstall, 
whose pages you thumbed to death with your never- 
ending studies. Once again, was I not right in my 
prophecies, and will you believe me now if I tell you 
that you will not stop there? If I told you that, 
listening carefully, I already hear softly in the dis- 
tance of your future the neighing and clatter of 
horses harnessed to a blue carriage, driven by 
powdered coachmen, and attended by a footman 
who says, as he spreads the carpet under your 
feet, * Where to, madame ? ' Will you believe me if 
I also tell you that later ah ! as late as possible 
325 



The Latin Quarter 

great Heaven ! attaining the height of an ambition 
you have long cherished, you will hold a table at 
Belleville or Batignolles, and you will be courted 
by elderly military gentlemen and hoary-headed 
profligates who will come to play clandestine bac- 
carat and lansquenet under your roof? But before 
arriving at this period, when the sunshine of your 
youth is fading, believe me, dear child, you will use 
many and many a yard of silk and of velvet, many 
a patrimony will be melted in the crucibles of your 
caprices, many a flower will fade upon your brow, 
many a one beneath your feet. Many a time you 
will change your coat of arms : by turns the wreath of 
a baroness, the crown of a countess, and the diadem 
of a marchioness. Your device will be * Inconstancy,' 
and you will know how to please all in turn, or even 
at the same time, according to caprice or necessity, 
these numerous adorers who will come in file into the 
ante-chamber of your heart, as they make a queue at 
theatre doors where a popular piece is being played. 

"Go forward, then, go forward, your spirit dis- 
burdened of memories which are replaced by ambi- 
tions ; go on, the way is beautiful and we wish it 
pleasant to your feet ; but above all we wish that 
all these riches and this luxury, these splendid 
toilettes, do not become too soon the shroud of your 
heart's gaiety." 

In this fashion spoke the painter Marcel to 
young Mile. Mimi whom he chanced to meet some 
few days after her second divorce from the poet 
Rodolphe. Although she was compelled to smile at 
the railleries of the horoscope he drew, Mimi was not 
duped by the words he uttered, and perfectly compre- 
326 



Mimi has Feathers 

bended that, entertaining little respect for her new 
grandeur, he was mocking- her bitterly. 

" You are disagreeable to me, Marcel," said 
Mimi. "It is too bad of you. I was always nice 
to you when I was Rodolphe's sweetheart, and if I 
have left him it is all his fault. It is he who sent 
me away, and then how did he treat me, pray, 
during the last few days of my stay with him? I 
was very miserable. There, you don't know what 
Rodolphe is ! His nature is a petrifaction of 
irritability and jealousy, which was killing me by 
inches. He loved me, I know, well enough, but his 
love was as dangerous as a firearm, and what an 
existence I led with him for fifteen months ! Ah, 
Marcel, I don't want to make myself out better than 
I am, but I have cruelly suffered with Rodolphe, you 
know I have. It is not poverty which has parted 
us. No, indeed it is not. I was used to that, and, 
moreover, I repeat it, it was he who sent me away. 
He has trampled on my feelings ; he said I had no 
heart if I stayed on with him ; he told me he loved 
me no longer, that I must find another sweetheart ; 
he even went so far as to mention the name of a 
young man who was offering me his attentions, and 
by his conduct he was the means of bringing me 
and the young man together. I went to him more 
out of spite than necessity, for I did not care for 
him ; you know well enough that I have no liking 
for such young persons ; they bore one, and are 
as sentimental as musical glasses. And now 
what is done is done, and I don't regret it, 
and I should do it again if it had to be done. 
Now that he no longer has me with him, and 
327 



The Latin Quarter 

knows that I am happy with another, Rodolphe is 
furious and unhappy. I know someone who has 
recently met him. His eyes were red. I am not 
surprised. I was sure it would be like that, and 
that he would be running after me, but you can tell 
him that it would be only his pains wasted, and that 
this time all is over now and for ever. Is it long 
since you have seen him, Marcel, and is it true that 
he is so much changed ? " added Mimi in another 
key. 

''Very much changed, indeed," replied Marcel. 
"Cruelly changed." 

" He is miserable, that is certain, but what would 
you have me do ? All the worse for him. It was 
his wish, he wanted an end to it all. You must 
manage to console him." 

"Oh, oh!" quickly said Marcel, "the greater 
part of that need is met. Don't let that disturb you, 
Mimi." 

" You are not telling the truth, my dear," said 
Mimi, with a little ironical pout. " Rodolphe would 
not console himself so quickly as that. If you knew 
what a state he was in the day I went away ! It 
was on a Friday. I would not stay that night with 
my new sweetheart because I am superstitious, and 
Friday is an unlucky day." 

"You are wrong, Mimi. In love Friday is a 
lucky day. ' Dies VenerisJ the ancients said." 

" I don't know Latin," continued Mile. Mimi. 
" I left Paul, and I found Rodolphe waiting like 
a sentinel for me at the corner of the street. It was 
late, after midnight, and I was hungry. I asked 
Rodolphe to go and get me something for my supper. 
328 



Mimi has Feathers 

He came back after being away half an hour ; he 
had run about a good deal to get me in the end no- 
thing very wonderfully good bread, wine, sardines, 
cheese and an apple tart. I had gone to bed during 
his absence ; he put the table with the things beside 
the bed. I pretended not to see him, but I saw him 
well enough. He was as pale as death, he was 
shaking all over, and he went about the room like a 
man who doesn't know what he is doing. In one 
corner there were some parcels of my things done up 
ready for taking away. The sight of them seemed 
to upset him, and he drew the screen before them to 
hide them. He tried to make me drink when we 
began to eat the supper, but I was neither hungry 
nor thirsty, and my heart seemed all shrivelled up. 
It was cold, for there was nothing to make a fire 
with ; we heard the wind whistling in the chimney. 
It was very wretched. Rodolphe looked at me ; his 
eyes were fixed. He put his hand in mine, and I 
could feel it trembling ; it was hot and cold by 
turns. 

" * It is the funeral supper of our loves,' he said in 
a low voice to me. 

" I did not answer, but I had not the courage to 
draw away my hand. ' I am sleepy,' I said to him 
at last. ' It is late, let us sleep. ' Rodolphe looked 
at me. I had wrapped one of his neck-handker- 
chiefs round my head to keep the cold out ; he took 
off the handkerchief without speaking a word. 
* Why do you take that off? ' I asked him. * I am 
cold.' 

" * Oh, Mimi ! ' he said then. Please I entreat 
you it won't cost you anything ; put on for 
to-night your little striped cap.' 
329 



The Latin Quarter 

" It was a cap made of striped white and brown 
cotton. Rodolphe always liked to see me in this 
cap, it reminded him of happy times. Reflecting 1 
that it was for the last time, I did not dare to refuse 
his whim. I got up and went to find my striped 
cap, which was at the bottom of one of my packages. 
Inadvertently I neglected to replace the screen. 
Rodolphe, observing this, put it back himself, hiding 
the packages as he had done before. 

" ( Good night,' said he. 

" ' Good night,' I answered. I thought he was 
going to kiss me, and I should not have refused him, 
but he only took my hand and carried it to his lips. 
You know, Marcel, how fond he is of kissing my 
hands. I heard his teeth chatter, and he was as cold 
as marble. He kept tight hold of my hand, and he had 
laid his head on my shoulder, which was soon wet 
with his tears. Rodolphe was in a fearful state ; he 
strove to stifle his sobs with the coverlet, but I could 
hear, and I felt his tears raining on my shoulder, 
first burning, then freezing it. I had need of all my 
courage then, and it nearly failed me. I had only 
to say the words, only to turn my head, my lips would 
have met his, and once again we should have made 
it up. Ah ! once I really thought he would have died 
in my arms, or that he would have gone mad, as 
once before he almost did, don't you remember? I 
was going to give in, I felt I was. I should have been 
first to yield ; I was about to take him in my arms, 
for one would really have been destitute of a soul to 
remain insensible to such anguish ; but I remem- 
bered his words the night before, * You are heartless 
if you stay with me, for I love you no longer.' Ah, 
330 



Mimi has Feathers 

recalling these harsh words, I saw him almost die 
beside me. I might have turned my lips to his, and 
I might have seen him die. At last, overcome with 
fatigue, I fell half asleep. I heard him still sobbing, 
and, Marcel, he sobbed all night; and when daylight 
broke, and I looked at this lover I was leaving for 
the arms of another, it was frightful to see the 
ravages his sufferings had made in his face. 

" He got up as I had done, without a word, and 
almost fell at the first steps he took, he was so weak 
and broken down. He dressed himself, however, 
quickly enough, and only asked me which way I 
was going and when I should go. I replied that I 
did not know. He went out without saying good- 
bye, without shaking hands. That is how we 
parted. What a blow it must have been for him 
when he returned and found me gone ! Eh ? " 

" I was there when Rodolphe came back," said 
Marcel as Mimi ceased, quite out of breath with 
talking so long. "As the porter's wife gave him 
his key she said 

" 'The little woman is gone.' 'Ah,' said Rodolphe, 
4 that does not surprise me. I expected it,' and he 
went upstairs to his room, where I followed him, 
fearing some outburst, but nothing happened. l As 
it is too late to go and look for another room to- 
night,' he said to me, * we will do it together to- 
morrow morning. Let us go now and have dinner.' 
I thought he would drink too much, but I was 
wrong. We had a very quiet dinner in a restaurant 
where you went with him to dine sometimes. I 
ordered Beaune to cheer him up a bit. * It was 
Mimi's favourite wine,' he said. * We have often 



The Latin Quarter 

drunk it together at this very table where we are 
sitting. I remember one day she said to me, 
holding out her glass which she had emptied more 
than once, "Fill it again. It puts balm into my 
heart." It was not a very brilliant mot, do you 
think ? worthy of a vaudeville scribbler. Ah ! she 
drank bravely, did Mimi.' Seeing him inclined to 
drop away into the paths of old memories, I began 
to talk to him of other things, and there was no 
further mention of you. He passed all the evening 
with me, and seemed as calm as the Mediterranean. 
What most amazed me was that there was no affec- 
tation in his composure. It was sincere indifference. 
Towards midnight we returned home. 

"'You seem surprised at my calmness in the 
situation in which I am placed,' he said to me. 
* Let me make you a comparison, my dear fellow, 
and if it is commonplace, it at least has the merit of 
being apt. My heart is like a fountain which has 
been allowed to play all night : in the morning it has 
not a single drop left in it. 

" * So is my heart. I wept away that night all the 
tears I had left. It is strange, but I thought I had 
more feeling in me, and by a night of suffering I am 
quite run dry. On my word of honour it is so, and 
here, where last night my very soul seemed about 
to render itself up for a woman who stirred no more 
than a stone since that woman now rests her head 
upon another's heart I shall sleep like a porter 
who has done a big day's work.' 

" ' All put on,' I thought to myself. 'I shall no 
sooner be gone than he will be battering his head 
against the walls.' However, I left him alone and 
332 



Mimi has Feathers 

returned to my own room, but I did not go to bed. 
About three o'clock in the morning I thought I 
heard a noise in Rodolphe's room. I hurried down, 
expecting to find him stricken with some terrible 
fever " 

"Well? "said Mimi. 

"Well, my dear, Rodolphe was asleep, the bed- 
clothes were smooth, and everything testified to his 
slumber being calm, and that it had come to him 
quickly." 

"That is possible," said Mimi. "He was so 
tired out with the previous night. But the next 
day?" 

"The next day Rodolphe came and woke me 
early, and we went out to find apartments in some 
other place, where we went that same evening." 

"And," demanded Mimi, "what did he do when 
he left the room we occupied? What did he say 
as he was leaving the place where he had so loved 
me?" 

"He packed up calmly," replied Marcel, "and 
having found in a drawer a pair of thread gloves 
you had left behind you, as well as two or three 
letters of yours ' 

"I know," said Mimi, in tones which seemed to 
say, * I forgot them on purpose, so that he might 
have some remembrance of me.' " What did he do 
with them ? " she added. 

" I think," said Marcel, " that he threw the letters 
into the grate and the gloves out of the window ; 
but not with romantic gestures, without any show- 
off very naturally, as one might do when one gets 
rid of rubbish." 

333 



The Latin Quarter 

" My dear Monsieur Marcel, I assure you that to 
the bottom of my heart I hope this indifference 
will last ; but there again, most sincerely I do not 
believe in such a rapid cure, and in spite of all 
you tell me I am convinced that my poet's heart 
is broken." 

" It may be so," replied Marcel, as he parted from 
Mimi. "Still, if I do not greatly mistake, the 
pieces are in very good case." 

While this colloquy was taking place in the 
public street Monsieur le Vicomte Paul was wait- 
ing for his new sweetheart, who was terribly late 
and made herself exceedingly disagreeable to Mon- 
sieur le Vicomte. He stretched himself at her feet 
and chanted her favourite theme that is to say 
that she was charming, pale as the moon, gentle 
as a lamb, but that he loved her above all for the 
loveliness of her soul. 

"Ah!" thought Mimi, as she let the waves 
of her brown hair roll down on her snowy 
shoulders, "my friend Rodolphe was not so super- 
fine." 

II 

As Marcel had said, Rodolphe appeared to be 
radically cured of his love for Mile. Mimi, and 
three or four days after his separation from her the 
poet reappeared completely metamorphosed. He was 
attired with an elegance which rendered him almost 
unrecognisable by his own mirror. Nothing about him 
in short afforded room for any fear that it was his 
intention to cast himself into the depths of nothing- 
ness. Mile. Mimi had spread the report that this 
334 



Mimi has Feathers 

seemed possible, adding thereto all sorts of hypo- 
critical expressions of regret. Rodolphe was per- 
fectly calm; he listened, without a line of his face 
disturbing itself, to the tales told of the new and 
luxurious life led by his old sweetheart, who was 
pleased to let them be circulated by a young 
woman who was her friend and confidante, and who 
happened to see Rodolphe nearly every evening. 

"Mimi was very happy with Vicomte Paul," this 
woman told the poet; " he seemed desperately in 
love with her. Only one thing troubles her she 
is afraid of your upsetting her by coming after 
her, which would, moreover, be dangerous for you, 
for the Vicomte adores his mistress and has had 
two years' fencing practice ! " 

" Oh, oh ! " said Rodolphe, " let her sleep quite in 
peace. I have no desire to go and drop vinegar 
into her honeymoon. As to her young lover, he 
may safely leave his dagger hanging upon its nail, 
like Gastebelza, the man with the carbine. I should 
not wish otherwise in connection with a gentleman 
who has still the happiness of being at nurse with 
his illusions." And as there was no lack of reports 
to Mimi of the spirit in which her former sweetheart 
received the particulars of her present welfare, she, 
on her part, did not forget to reply with a shrug. 

' 'Oh, very well, very well. We shall see, one of 
these days, how all that turns out." 

Notwithstanding this, and more than anyone else, 
Rodolphe was greatly astonished at his own sudden 
indifference, which, without passing through the 
ordinary phases of sadness and melancholy, came 
direct upon the violent tempests which had agitated 
335 



The Latin Quarter 

him but a few days before. Forgetfulness is slow in 
coming, above all to those bereft of love forget- 
fulness which they call loudly for, and as loudly repel 
when they feel its approach ; that pitiless consoler had 
suddenly with one blow, and without his being able 
to defend himself, invaded Rodolphe's heart, and 
the name of her he had so loved was never again to 
waken an echo there. Strange that Rodolphe, whose 
memory was so strong in its power of recalling 
things which had happened in the most remote 
days of his past years, and the beings who had 
moulded or had influenced his existence no matter 
how far back Rodolphe, after four days of separa- 
tion, let him strive as he would, was unable dis- 
tinctly to recall the features of this girl who had been 
able to hold his very life in her slender hands ; in the 
eyes whose radiance had so often soothed him he no 
longer saw any sweetness ; of that voice itself, whose 
petulance or whose tenderness filled him with delu- 
sions of happiness, he could not recall the tones. A 
poet friend, who had not seen him since his sunder- 
ing from Mimi, met him one evening. Rodolphe 
appeared busy and anxious as he strode along the 
street flourishing his cane about. 

"Ah," said the poet, holding out his hand, 
"there you are"; and he gazed with curiosity at 
Rodolphe. 

Seeing that he had a long face, he thought it was 
right to speak in a consolatory key. 

" Come, courage, my dear fellow ! I know it was 
hard, but it must have come to that some day. 
Better now than later. In three months' time the 
cure will be complete. " 

336 



Mimi has Feathers 

"What are you talking about? " said Rodolphe. 
" I am not ill, my friend." 

" Oh, hang it ! " said the other, " you needn't try 
to brazen it out. I know the whole affair, and if 
not I should be able to read it now in your face." 

"Mind, you are making a quid pro quo," said 
Rodolphe. " I am worried this evening, to be sure, 
but as to the cause of the worry, you haven't quite 
put your finger on the right spot. " 

"Ah, why excuse yourself? It is all natural 
enough. An affair like that, which has lasted nearly 
two years, is not broken up so easily." 

" Everybody tells me the same thing," said 
Rodolphe impatiently. " But on my honour, you are 
quite mistaken you and everyone. I am profoundly 
miserable and doubtless look it, but why I am so is 
because my tailor was to bring me home a new coat, 
.A it has not come. That, that is why I am so 
wretched." 

" Bad, bad," said the other, laughing. 

"Not bad; good. On the contrary, very good. 
Excellent even. Follow my argument, and you will 
see." 

"Well," said the poet, " I am listening to you. 
" Prove to me how one can reasonably wear such a 
melancholy exterior because a tailor fails to keep his 
word. Go on, go on ; I am waiting." 

"Ah, well," said Rodolphe, "you know little 
causes are productive of great effects. I wanted to 
pay a very important visit this evening, and I am 
not able to do it because I haven't my coat. You 
follow me?" 

" No, the motive does not suffice for the wretched- 
z 337 



The Latin Quarter 

ness. You are miserable because no, you are too 
stupid to make pretences to me. There you have 
my opinion." 

"My friend," said Rodolphe, "you are very ob- 
stinate. There is always a foundation of wretched- 
ness where happiness or even pleasure is wanting, 
because it is almost always so much loss, and one 
cannot always say which of the two it may be. I 
will go into that with you another time. I resume. 
I had a rendezvous this evening with a lady. I was 
to meet her at a house whence I might have con- 
ducted her to mine, if it had been shorter than for 
me to go to her house, or even if it had been longer. 
In this house there was an evening party to be 
given. To an evening party one can only go in a 
dress suit. I have not a dress suit ; my tailor should 
have brought me one. He did not bring it. I do 
not go to the soiree. I do not meet the lady, whose 
favour is, perhaps, being sought by another. I 
neither take her to my house nor go to hers. There- 
fore, as I told you, I miss a happiness or a pleasure ; 
therefore I am wretched ; therefore I appear so ; and 
it is all natural enough." 

"Granted," said the friend; "therefore, having 
drawn one foot out of one hell, you plunge the 
other into a fresh one. But, my good friend, when 
I met you just now you looked as if you were wait- 
ing for someone." 

" I was doing so." 

"But," continued the other, "we are in the 
quarter where your old sweetheart lives. What will 
prove to me that you were not waiting for her ? " 

"Although we have parted, particular reasons 
338 



Mimi has Feathers 

compel me to remain in this neighbourhood ; but 
although we are neighbours, we are as far off from 
each other as if the poles sundered us. Besides, at 
this time of day my former mistress is sitting by the 
fire taking lessons in grammar with Monsieur le 
Vicomte Paul, who wishes to lead her into the paths 
of virtue by the way of orthography. Heavens, 
how he will spoil her ! However, that is his busi- 
ness now that he is her ruler-in-chief. You see, 
therefore, that your views were absurd, and that 
instead of being on the obliterated tracks of my old 
passion, I am on those of the new, who is already a 
neighbour of mine, and will become still more inti- 
mate, for I agree to take the necessary steps, and, 
; f she will take the rest, we shall not be long in 
.aderstanding each other." 

"Really," said the poet, "you are in love 
already ? " 

"I am," replied Rodolphe ; "my heart is like 
those apartments that are put up to let directly the 
former lodger quits them. When one love leaves 
my heart I put up the notice for another. The 
place is habitable and in perfect repair." 

"And who is the new divinity? Where did you 
find her and when ? " 

"Ah," said Rodolphe, "let us go step by step. 
When Mimi left me I thought I should never in all 
my life be in love again, and I fancied my heart 
was dead with fatigue, exhaustion, what you 
please. It had throbbed so long, so fast too 
fast, that it was incredible. In brief, I believed it 
to be dead, quite dead, and I thought, like Marl- 
borough, I would bury it. In honour of this 
339 



The Latin Quarter 

occasion I invited some of my friends to a little 
funeral dinner. The guests were to put on mournful 
visages, and the bottles were to have crape round 
their necks." 

" You did not invite me." 

" Forgive me, but I did not know the exact situa- 
tion of the cloud you live in. One of my guests 
brought a lady, a young woman forsaken by her 
lover. They told her my story ; one of my friends 
related it a fellow who plays very well upon the 
violin of sentiment. He talked to this young woman 
of the qualities of my heart, the poor corpse they 
had assembled to bury, and invited her to drink to 
its eternal repose. 

" 'No,' she said, lifting her glass, 'on the con- 
trary, I will drink to its health,' and she cast a 
glance at me, a glance to waken a dead man, as 
they say, and then was the time or never to say it, 
for she had not uttered her toast before I felt my 
heart singing the ' O Filii ' of the Resurrection. 
What would you have done in my place? " 

" A fine question ! What is her name ? " 

" I don't know yet. I shall not ask her name till 
the moment when we sign our contract. I know 
well enough that, in the opinion of some, I am not 
within statutable limitations. I am my own so- 
licitor, and I can settle the costs with myself. 
What I do know is that my future sweetheart 
brings me a dowry of gaiety, which is the health of 
the mind, and of health, which is the gaiety of the 
body." 

" Is she pretty? " 

" Very pretty in complexion, at all events. One 
340 



Mimi has Feathers 

would say that she washed herself of a morning 
from Watteau's palette. 

" ' My sweetheart is fair, 
And her conquering 1 darts 
Set fire to all hearts.' 
Witness mine." 

" She is fair ? You astonish me." 
" Yes, I have had enough of ebony and ivory. I 
turn to the blonde " ; and Rodolphe began to sing 
and caper. 

" 'We will sing if you will 
To the girl I adore ; 
She is fair as Aurore 
Or the wheat in the field.' " 

"Poor Mimi!" said the friend. " So soon for- 
gotten ! " 

The name flung into the midst of Rodolphe's 
gaiety gave a turn to the conversation. Rodolphe 
took his friend by the arm and told him a long 
tale of the causes of his rupture with Mile. Mimi, 
the terrible loneliness seizing him when she left 
him, how miserable he was because he thought she 
had taken away with her all that remained to him of 
youth and of passion, and how two days later he 
had seen his mistake in feeling the chords of his 
heart, softened by the flow of sobs and tears, gather 
warmth, and kindle and break into flame under the 
first passionate glances cast at him by the first 
woman he had met. He told his friend of this 
sudden and despotic conquest forgetfulness had 
gained without his even having appealed to his old 
sorrow for protection against it, and how this sorrow 
was dead, shrouded in oblivion. 

"Isn't it all marvellous?" he said to the poet, 
34i 



The Latin Quarter 

who, knowing from his own heart and experience all 
the sufferings of wounded and crushed-out love, 
replied 

" No, no, my friend, there is no more of the mar- 
vellous in it for you than for others. What has 
happened to you has happened to me. The women 
we love, when they become our mistresses, cease to 
be for us what they really are. We see them only 
with lovers' eyes ; we see them, also, with poets' 
eyes. Just as a painter clothes a dummy in imperial 
purple or the Madonna's starry veil, we have always 
shining robes and snowy raiment to cast about 
creatures who are unintelligent, bad, wicked ; and 
when they are clothed in the garments in which our 
ideal loves passed into the azure depths of our 
dreams, we allow them to wear this disguise, we 
incarnate our dream in the person of the first woman 
to whom we speak our language, and she does 
not comprehend it. 

"This creature herself, nevertheless, at whose 
feet we prostrate ourselves, tears away the glorious 
garments in which we have clothed her, the better 
for us to see her corrupt nature and her low 
instincts ; nevertheless, she puts her hand on the 
place where her heart should be, where there is no 
longer a throb, perhaps where never has been life. 
She nevertheless draws aside her veil and discloses 
her dim eyes and her pale lips and her withered 
features. We drag back the veil in its place, and 
we cry to ourselves, ' Thou liest ! thou liest ! I love 
thee and thou lovest me. This white bosom covers 
a heart which is young. I love thee and thou 
lovest me. Thou art beautiful, thou art young. 
342 



Mimi has Feathers 

Beneath all thy vices there is love. I love thee, and 
thou lovest me ! ' 

"Then at last, oh! always in the end, after 
having bound our eyes with triple bandages, we 
perceive that we are ourselves the dupes of our own 
error. We send away the unhappy being which 
but yesterday was our idol ; we drag off from her the 
golden veil of our poetry, which next day we throw 
about the shoulders of some unknown creature, who 
passes at once to the throne of the glorified idol. 
And that is what we all are, monstrous egotists, 
who love love for love's sake you understand me, 
don't you ? and we quaff the divine drink in the first 
glass that comes to hand. 

" ' What matters the glass 
If ecstasy reigns.'" 

"It is as true as two and two make four, what 
you say," said Rodolphe to the poet. 

"Yes," replied he, "it is as true and sad as the 
half-and-half of all truths. Good night." 

Two days later Mimi learned that Rodolphe had a 
new mistress. She only asked one thing, which was 
if he caressed her hands as often as he used to do 
hers. 

"Quite as often," said Marcel. "Moreover, he 
kisses each hair one after the other, and they ought 
to remain faithful till he has finished." 

"Ah!" said Mimi, passing her fingers through 
her hair, " it is lucky he did not think of doing that 
with me ; we should have remained together all our 
lives. Do you think that it is really true that he no 
longer loves me one bit ? " 

" Ah, rubbish ! And do you still love him ? " 
343 



The Latin Quarter 

"I? I never loved him." 

"Yes, Mimi ; yes you did love him. In those 
days when the heart of woman is yielding you 
loved him, and do not deny it, for it is your 
justification." 

" Ah, nonsense ! " said Mimi. " He loves another 
woman now." 

"That is true," said Marcel, "but it will not 
interfere. Later your memory will be for him like 
the flowers that one places all fresh and fragrant 
between the leaves of a book. Long after one finds 
them there withered and discoloured dead, but con- 
serving still some faint perfume of their original 
sweetness." 

One evening when she was humming something 
in a low voice to herself, Vicomte Paul said to 
Mimi 

" What are you singing, dearest? " 

"The funeral poem of our love which Rodolphe 
has lately composed." And she began to sing 

' ' I am too poor, sweetheart, to share your fold, 

And Custom hard, in such a parlous state, 
Ordains oblivion. E'en as those of old, 
O Mimi, tearless you accept your fate. 

You see, dear, none can rob us of the past, 
For ever ours those nights and happy days ; 

It does not matter that they did not last 

Those that flew fastest flashed the brightest rays.' " 



344 



XXI 

ROMEO AND JULIET 

DRESSED like a portrait in his own journal 
the Iris gloved, polished, shaved, curled, 
the ends of his moustache twisted to a point, 
stick in hand, eye-glass in eye, expansive, smiling, 
and rejuvenated, our friend Rodolphe might have 
been seen one November evening standing on 
the pavement waiting for a cab to drive him 
home. 

Rodolphe waiting for a cab? What cataclysm 
had occurred in his private life? At the same 
moment that the transformed poet twirled his mous- 
tache, smoked his regalia and charmed the ladies 
as they passed, one of his friends was walking along 
the same street. It was the philosopher, Gustave 
Colline. Rodolphe saw him coming and recognised 
him ; and who once seeing him was likely to forget 
him? Colline was loaded as usual with a dozen 
books. Wearing the immortal nut-brown paletot, 
whose durability suggested its having been con- 
structed by the Romans, and his head surmounted 
with the famous broad-brimmed beaver hat (which 
has been christened Mambrino's helmet of modern 
philosophy) beneath whose dome germinated the 
seed of hyperphysical dreams, Gustave Colline 
345 



The Latin Quarter 

walked slowly, ruminating over the preface to a 
work which he had had in the press for the past 
three months. As he approached the spot where 
Rodolphe was standing, Colline thought he recog- 
nised him, but the supreme elegance of the poet's 
appearance created doubt and uncertainty in the 
philosopher's mind. 

" Rodolphe in gloves carrying a cane ! Chimera ! 
Utopia ! What an aberration ! Rodolphe curled ! 
He who had no hair worth speaking of! Where 
is my head ? Besides, at such an hour my un- 
happy friend is in the act of mournful lamentation 
and composing melancholy verses on the departure 
of Mademoiselle Mimi, who is the cause of his 
wretchedness. How deeply I regret this young 
woman ! She made coffee with immense distinction 
coffee which is the beverage of serious minds. 
But I like to think that Rodolphe will console 
himself, and that he will take unto himself a new 
coffee-maker. " 

And Colline was so charmed with his own com- 
ment that he was about to cry encore, had not the 
philosopher's voice wakened within him and called a 
stentorian " Stop that ! " 

When, however, he had gone a little nearer, 
Colline found that he was right : it was Rodolphe, 
curled, in gloves, and carrying a cane. It was 
impossible, but it was true. 

" Eh, eh ! By Jove ! " said Colline. " I do not 
mistake. It is you, sure enough." 

" It is I," replied Rodolphe. 

And Colline fell to contemplating his friend, 
endowing his face with the expression employed 
346 



Romeo and Juliet 

by Monsieur Lebrun, painter to the king, to 
convey surprise. But suddenly he observed two 
extraordinary objects with which Rodolphe was en- 
cumbered. First, a ladder of silken cord ; secondly, 
a cage in which some kind of bird was hopping 
about. At sight of these Gustave Colline's face 
took on an expression which Monsieur Lebrun, 
painter to the king, has forgotten to present in his 
picture of " The Passions." 

' * Come, " said Rodolphe to his friend. * * I distinctly 
perceive the mental curiosity which is looking out 
of the windows of your eyes. I am about to satisfy 
it, only let us quit the public highway. It is so cold 
that it will freeze your questions and my answers." 

And they went together into a cafe. 

Colline's eyes did not quit the cord ladder or the 
cage containing the bird, who, warmed by the 
atmosphere of the cafe, began to sing to Colline in 
an unknown tongue, for all he had such a knowledge 
of languages. 

"Well," said the philosopher, pointing to the 
ladder, "what is that?" 

" It is a link of union between my friend and me," 
said Rodolphe in the tones of a mandoline. 

" And that? " said Colline, pointing to the bird. 

"That?" said the poet, his voice taking on the 
softness of the evening breeze. " It is a clock." 

"Talk without parable in vile prose, so only 
that it is understandable." 

" Good. Have you read Shakespeare? " 

"Yes, I have read him 'To be or not to be. 1 
He was a great philosopher. Yes, I have read 
him." 

347 



The Latin Quarter 

" Do you remember Romeo and Juliet?" 

" Do I remember it? " said Colline ; and he began 

to recite 

" ' It is not yet near day : 
It was the nightingale, and not the lark.' 

" By Jove ! Yes, I remember. But what then ? " 

"What!" said Rodolphe, pointing to his ladder 
of cords and the birdcage, "you don't understand? 
It is the poem itself. I am in love, my friend, in 
love with a woman who is called Juliet." 

"Well," said Colline impatiently, "what then?" 

"Well, my new divinity being called Juliet, I 
have conceived the idea of enacting over again 
Shakespeare's drama. To begin with, my name is 
no longer Rodolphe, I am called Romeo Montague ; 
and you will oblige me by not calling me anything 
else. In fact, that all the world may know it, I 
have it engraved on my new visiting cards. But 
that is not all. I am going to avail myself of the 
opportunity of being somebody else when carnival 
time comes to dress myself in a velvet doublet and 
wear a sword " 

" To kill Tybalt with ? " asked Colline. 

"Precisely," continued Rodolphe; "and this 
ladder which you see is to assist me to enter my 
mistress's chamber, which, as it happens, has a 
balcony." 

"But the bird, the bird!" said the obstinate 
Colline. 

" Eh, well, this bird, which is a pigeon, is to play 

the part of nightingale, and indicate every morning 

the precise moment when, as I quit her adored arms, 

my mistress is to embrace me with both arms 

348 



Romeo and Juliet 

flung round my neck, and to say in her sweet tones, 
exactly as in the balcony scene, ' It is not yet near 
day: 'tis not the lark.' That is to say, 'No, it is 
not yet eleven. There is mud in the streets. Don't 
go. We are so comfortable here.' In order to 
complete the imitation, I am going to try and get a 
nurse and place her at the service of my lady love ; 
and I hope that now and again the almanack will 
give me a little moonlight, so that I can climb up to 
my Juliet's balcony. What do you say to my project, 
philosopher? " 

"It is delightful," said Colline, "but can you 
further explain the mystery of this superb raiment 
which renders you almost unrecognisable? Have 
you become rich ? " 

Rodolphe did not reply, but he signed to a waiter, 
and carelessly threw down a louis, saying, ' Pay ! ' ' 

Then he clapped his pockets, which rattled music- 
ally. 

"You have a bell-tower in your pockets to pro- 
duce such sounds as that? " 

" A few louis merely." 

"Gold louis?" said Colline in a voice half suffo- 
cated with astonishment. " Show us a little how it 
is done." 

Then the two friends separated, Colline to go and 
relate the opulence and the new loves of Rodolphe, 
the other to return home. 

This took place during the week following the 
second rupture of Rodolphe's love passages with 
Mile. Mimi. Accompanied by his friend Marcel, 
the poet, when he broke with his sweetheart, had 
felt the need of change of air and scene and 
349 



The Latin Quarter 

he quitted the furnished rooms, whose landlord saw 
him and Marcel part for good without too much 
regret. Both, as has been already related, had 
sought a lodging elsewhere, and engaged two rooms 
in the same house and on the same floor. Rodolphe's 
chamber was infinitely more comfortable than any 
he had lodged in before. There was really some 
substantial furniture in it, especially a couch up- 
holstered in a sort of stuff imitating velvet, which 
stuff by no means said, " Do as you please." 

There were also upon the mantelshelf two porce- 
lain vases painted with flowers, flanking an alabaster 
clock with hideous ornamentation. Rodolphe put 
the vases in a cupboard ; and on the landlord 
coming to wind up the clock, the poet begged him 
not to do so. 

"I consent to the clock remaining where it is," 
he said, " but only as an object of art. It points to 
midnight. That is a good hour. Let it keep to it. 
The day it goes to five minutes past I leave. A 
clock ! " continued Rodolphe, who had never been 
able to submit himself to the imperious tyranny of 
such a thing. " It is an enemy who implacably 
measures your existence out of you, hour by hour, 
minute by minute, and says to you every instant, 
'Here goes a bit of your life.' Ah, I could not 
sleep quietly in a room where one of these instru- 
ments of torture stands to render dreams and 
sweet leisure impossible ; a clock, whose hands 
stretch to your bed and pinch you in the morning 
when you are wrapped in the soft delights of first 
awakening ; a clock, whose voice cries to you, 
* Ding, ding, ding ! It is time for work : leave your 
350 



Romeo and Juliet 

lovely dreams ; come away from the caresses of your 
visions (or it may be of your realities). Put on 
your hat, your boots ; it rains. Get to your busi- 
ness. It is time ding, ding, ding! ' It is enough 
and more to have an almanack. Let my clock 

remain paralysed. If not ' And thus indulging 

in his monologue, he examined his new dwelling, 
disturbed by that secret disquietude one always 
feels on taking up fresh quarters. 

"I have noticed," he went on to himself, "that 
the places we inhabit exercise a mysterious influence 
on our thoughts, and consequently on our actions. 
This room is cold and silent as a tomb. If ever 
cheerfulness comes here it must be let in from with- 
out, and then it will not last long, for laughter 
would die echoless under this low ceiling, cold and 
white as a snowy sky. Alas ! what will my life be 
between these four walls ? " 



Notwithstanding, a few days later this melancholy 
chamber was full of light and resounded with joyous 
chatter. They were having a house-warming, and 
numerous bottles assisted the merriment of the 
guests. Rodolphe himself was soon won over by the 
contagious good humour of his friends. In a corner 
beside a young lady, who was one of the company, 
and with whom Rodolphe was greatly taken, the 
poet made madrigals with lips and hands. Before 
the end of the banquet he had obtained from her a 
rendezvous for next day. 

"Well," he said to himself when he was alone 
again, " the evening hasn't passed so badly, and my 
coming here seems to begin well." 



The Latin Quarter 

The next day, at the appointed hour, Mile. Juliet 
arrived. The evening passed in explanations. 
Juliet had heard of the recent rupture between 
Rodolphe and the blue-eyed girl he had so deeply 
loved. She knew that after giving her up Rodolphe 
had taken her back again, and she was afraid of 
being a new victim to these amorous comings and 
goings. 

" You see," she added, with a pretty little mutinous 
air, " I have no fancy for playing a ridiculous part. 
I warn you I am very troublesome. Once mistress 
here," and she emphasised the significance she 
gave the word with a look "I yield my place to 
no one ! " 

Rodolphe called up all his eloquence to convince 
her that her fears were ill founded, and the young 
woman having every desire to be convinced, they 
finished by entirely understanding each other. Only 
they did not understand when midnight struck, for 
Rodolphe wanted Juliet to remain, and she was 
bent on going. 

" No," she said, when he insisted. " What is the 
need of hurry ? We shall reach where we ought to 
reach if you do not stop me on the way. I will come 
back to-morrow." And she came in this manner 
every evening for a week, to leave again when mid- 
night sounded. 

This slow fashion did not particularly vex 
Rodolphe. In love, or even in caprice, he was 
of the class of travellers who take their time on 
the road and make it picturesque. This little senti- 
mental preface resulted in dragging Rodolphe on, 
and it was doubtless in order to lead him to the 
352 



Romeo and Juliet 

point at which fancy, mellowed by resistance, begins 
to resemble love that Mile. Juliet employed her 
stratagem. 

At each visit she paid Rodolphe Juliet remarked a 
deeper tone of sincerity in what he said to her. He 
betrayed, when she happened to come a little late, 
a symptomatic impatience which charmed her, and 
he even wrote her letters couched in terms which 
led her to hope that she would quickly become his 
legitimate mistress. 

As Marcel, who was his confidant, happened once 
to see one of these letters of Rodolphe's, he said to 
him laughingly 

"Is it merely a way of speaking, or do you really 
mean what you say ? " 

"Yes, I mean it," replied Rodolphe, "and I am 
a little astonished at it, but so it is. A week ago 
I was in a wretched frame of mind. This solitude 
and this silence, which succeeded so cruelly to the 
tempests of the old way of living, upset me terribly, 
but Juliet came almost suddenly. I heard once 
more the echoes of the gaiety of the days when I 
was only twenty. I had before me a fresh young 
face, eyes beaming with smiles, a mouth made for 
kisses, and I allowed myself to be softly led on by 
this little woman and a fancy which I thought might 
develop into love. I love to love." 

Rodolphe, however, saw that it was for him to 
bring this little romance to a conclusion, and then it 
was that he conceived the notion of copying Shake- 
speare's scene of the love-making of Romeo and 
Juliet. His future mistress had found the idea 
amusing, and consented to play her part in it. It 
3 A 353 



The Latin Quarter 

was on the evening" for which the rendezvous had 
been fixed that Rodolphe met Colline as he was 
bringing home his purchase of silken cord with 
which he was to scale his Juliet's balcony. The 
bird-seller to whom he applied for a nightingale not 
having one in stock, Rodolphe had substituted a 
pigeon, which the man assured him always sang 
every morning at sunrise. 

As he entered his room the poet began to reflect 
that an ascent on a cord ladder might not be so 
easy, and that it would be as well to do a little 
rehearsal of the balcony scene if, apart from the 
chances of a fall, he did not wish to make himself 
ridiculous and clumsy in the eyes of her who would 
be waiting for him. Having fastened his ladder to 
two nails firmly fixed into the ceiling, Rodolphe em- 
ployed his remaining two hours in gymnastics, and 
after an infinite number of attempts he succeeded in 
climbing a dozen steps. 

"Come, that is all right," he said to himself; " I 
am sure of it now, and besides, if I stick by the 
way, love will give me wings." And laden with his 
ladder and his pigeon-cage, he found his way to 
Juliet's house, which was not far off. Her room 
was situated at the end of a little garden, and really 
had outside it a sort of little balcony ; but the room 
was a ground-floor one, and the balcony could be 
climbed with the greatest ease. 

Rodolphe was therefore considerably depressed 
when he perceived that the position of the balcony 
did not allow of his poetical plan for scaling it. 

"No matter," he said to Juliet, " we can do the 
balcony episode all the same. Here is a bird who 
354 



Romeo and Juliet 

will waken us to-morrow morning with his melodious 
voice, and will warn us of the precise moment when 
we must separate in despair " ; and Rodolphe hung 
the cage in a corner of the room. 

Next morning towards five o'clock the pigeon was 
punctual, and filled the room with a cooing which 
must have wakened the lovers had they slept. 

4 'Well," said Juliet, "now is the time to go out 
on the balcony and make our despairing adieus. 
What do you think ? " 

"The pigeon is too fast," said Rodolphe. " This 
is November ; the sun doesn't rise till midday." 

" No matter," said Juliet, "I'm going to get 
up." 

" Why should you do that? " 

"I'm hungry, and I tell you plainly that I could 
eat any amount." 

"The harmony between us is wonderfully sym- 
pathetic. I am also atrociously hungry," said 
Rodolphe, getting up and dressing himself hastily. 

Juliet had already lighted a fire, and looked on 
her sideboard, where she found nothing, Rodolphe 
helping her in the search. 

" Here," he said, " onions ! " 

"And lard! " said Juliet. 

"And butter!" 

"And bread!" 

Alas ! it was all. 

During the search the optimistic and careless 
pigeon sang on his perch. 

Romeo looked at Juliet, Juliet looked at Romeo. 
Both looked at the pigeon. 

They said no more. The pigeon's fate was sealed. 
355 



The Latin Quarter 

It was a lost case for him. Hunger is a cruel 
counsellor. 

Rodolphe had lighted the fire and put the butter in 
the saucepan. His air was grave and solemn. 

Juliet sliced the onions in a melancholy attitude, 
the pigeon sang on ; it was his willow song. With 
the soft lamentation was joined the song of the 
butter in the saucepan. 

Five minutes after the butter still sang, but, like 
the Templars, the pigeon sang no more. Romeo 
and Juliet had fitted their clock to the gridiron. 

" He had a pretty voice," said Juliet as they sat 
down to table. 

" He is very tender," said Rodolphe, cutting up 
his alarum perfectly cooked ; and the two lovers, 
looking at each other, surprised a tear in each 
other's eyes. 

Hypocrites ! It was the onions which made them 
cry! 



356 



XXII 

EPILOGUE TO THE LOVES OF RODOLPHE AND 
MADEMOISELLE MIMI 

DURING the early days of his final rupture with 
Mademoiselle Mimi, who left him, it will be 
remembered, to drive in Vicomte Paul's carriages, 
the poet Rodolphe had striven to stifle down regret 
by taking another sweetheart. She was fair, and 
we have seen him dress himself up as Romeo in a 
moment of folly and absurdity. The liaison, how- 
ever, which on his side was nothing but a matter of 
spite and on hers of caprice, could not have lasted 
long. The girl was, after all, a silly creature, who 
knew how to harp to perfection on the strings of 
gay life, intelligent enough to mark intelligence in 
others and take advantage of it, and with no more 
feeling than the amount needed to render her un- 
comfortable when she had eaten too much. Added to 
this she had a boundless love of self and an unbridled 
vanity, which had driven her on to prefer her lover 
running the risk of a broken leg to having a flounce 
the less in her dress or a faded ribbon in her bonnet. 
Of questionable beauty, she was a commonplace 
creature, full of bad instincts, yet attractive under 
certain conditions and at certain times. She at 
once saw that Rodolphe had taken her up simply to 
help him to forget the absent love, which she did not 
357 



The Latin Quarter 

succeed in doing, for never had Mimi lived so 
entirely and vividly in his heart as now. 

One day Juliet was talking of her lover the poet 
with a medical student who was paying court to her. 
" My dear child," he said, " that man makes use of 
you as use is made of nitrate to cauterise pain. He 
wants to cauterise his heart, and you are very 
wrong to want to cause bad blood by being true to 
him." 

"Ah, ah! " cried the young girl, bursting into a 
shout of laughter. " Do you really suppose it 
interferes with my arrangements ? " And the same 
evening she gave the student proof to the contrary. 

Thanks to the indiscretion of one of his officious 
friends, who was unable to keep to himself any 
intelligence capable of causing vexation to others, 
Rodolphe got wind of the affair, and found a 
pretext for breaking with his sweetheart. 

Then he shut himself up in absolute solitude, 
where all sorts of bats of weariness and melancholy 
came to make their nests, and he called hard work 
to his assistance, but it was in vain. Every evening, 
after struggling till the drops of perspiration fell as 
fast as the drops of ink he used, he wrote verses, in 
which old ideas, more worn out than the Wandering 
Jew, and miserably clothed in rags and tatters 
borrowed from literary fripperies, danced clumsily 
upon ropes of rubbish. In re-reading over these 
lines Rodolphe stood dismayed, like a man who sees 
weeds sprung up where he thought he had planted 
roses. Then he tore up the pages on which he had 
written his platitudes and trampled the fragments 
under his feet in an access of rage. 
358 



Rodolphe and Mile. Mimi 

" No," said he, beating his breast where his 
heart lay hidden, " the cord is broken. I must 
resign myself." And as for long past the same con- 
viction followed all his efforts, he was seized with 
the indolence which discourages and shakes the 
pride and power of the strongest and most brilliant 
intellects. Nothing indeed is more terrible than these 
solitary struggles which take place at times between 
the stubborn artist and rebellious art. Nothing is 
more distressing than these invitations, now sup- 
pliant, now imperious, which are addressed to the 
disdainful or fugitive muse. The worst human 
suffering, the deepest wounds struck at the inmost 
heart, do not cause any approach to the agony of 
those hours of self-distrust and impatience known to 
all who follow the perilous vocation of imaginative 
literature. To these violent crises succeeded cruel 
exhaustion, and Rodolphe would remain then for 
hours at a time, as if petrified in motionless 
stupidity. His elbows on the table, his eyes stonily 
fixed on the luminous space which the lamp's rays 
shed on the sheets of paper, ''the battle field" 
where his soul was daily vanquished and where his 
pen stumbled in its struggles to grasp the elusive 
ideas, he saw slowly passing in his mind's eye, like 
the figures of a magic-lantern panorama, fantastic 
figures of his past. First those laborious days, 
whose every hour that struck sounded the accom- 
plishment of a task, the studious nights passed in the 
company of the muse who came to people his 
solitary and patient poverty with her magic charm ; 
and he recalled with envy the pride which intoxicated 
him when he had fulfilled his self-imposed tasks. 
359 



The Latin Quarter 

"Oh! nothing can equal you," he would cry, 
"nothing can rival it. Luxurious fatigue of work, 
which renders the mattress of far niente so soft ! 
No selfish satisfaction, no feverish delights hidden 
amid heavy curtains of mysterious alcoves ; nothing 
can rival or come near this honest and calm delight, 
this legitimate self-content which work gives to the 
worker as his first reward." And his eyes still 
fixed on these visions which painted for him times 
and scenes long past, he would mount in imagina- 
tion once more six flights of stairs to all the attics 
where his chequered existence had been spent, and 
whither his muse, then his only love, faithful and 
persevering friend, had always followed him, cheer- 
ing his poverty and never interrupting his song of 
hope. But lo ! in the midst of this tranquil and 
regular existence suddenly appears the figure of a 
woman, and seeing her enter where she had hitherto 
been sole queen and mistress, the poet's muse rose 
sadly and yielded up her place to the new-comer in 
whom she knew a rival. Rodolphe hesitated for a 
moment between the muse, to whom his glance 
seemed to cry, " Remain," while an inviting gesture 
to the stranger seemed to say, " Come" ; and how 
could she be repelled, this charming being who 
advanced towards him graced with all the seductive- 
ness of beauty at its dawn? A little mouth and 
rosy lips speaking a frank and ingenuous language, 
full of soft promises, how refuse to take the little 
white, blue-veined hand caressingly outstretched 
towards him? How say, "Begone ! " to these flower- 
garlanded eighteen years whose presence already 
filled the house with the fragrance of youth and of 
360 



Rodolphe and Mile. Mimi 

gaiety ? And then in passionately stirred tones she 
sang" so sweetly the song of temptation. With 
her brilliant, animated eyes she said so eloquently, 
" I am love, from whose lips kisses were born. I 
am pleasure." By her whole person she said, " I 
am happiness," and Rodolphe let her take him 
captive. And besides, this girl was she not, after all, 
poetry in herself, living and breathing poetry ? Did 
he not owe fresh inspirations to her ? Had she not 
often initiated enthusiasm which bore him so 
far into the ether of dreams and reverie that he lost 
sight of earthly things ? If he had greatly suffered 
because of her, was not this suffering the expiation 
of immeasurable delight and joy which she had 
given him ? Was it not the ordinary revenge of 
human fate, which forbids absolute happiness as if 
it were impiety ? If the Christian law pardons those 
who have loved much, it is also because they have 
suffered much, and terrestrial love never becomes 
a divine passion till it is purified by tears. As the 
scent of faded roses intoxicates, so Rodolphe grew 
intoxicated once again in the memory of this life of 
old days, whose every day produced a new elegy, a 
terrible drama, a grotesque comedy. He passed 
through all the phases of his strange love for the 
dear absent one from the days of their honeymoon 
to the domestic storms which had brought about 
their last rupture. He recalled all the trickeries of 
his former mistress, he repeated to himself all her 
little mots and jests. He saw her dancing round 
him in their little chamber, humming her song of 
"Ma Mie Annette" ("My love Annette") and 
meeting with the same careless light-heartedness 
361 



The Latin Quarter 

good days and bad days, and winding up the 
account, he told himself that reason was always 
wrong in love. In brief, what had he gained by this 
rupture? When he lived with Mimi she deceived 
him, it is true ; but if he had known anything of it, 
it was his own fault, and because he gave himself 
infinite trouble to ascertain the fact, because he spent 
his time in unearthing proof and sharpened with 
his own hand the daggers he plunged into his heart. 
Besides, was not Mimi skilful enough in demon- 
strating to him that it was, after all, he who 
deceived himself? And with whom had she been 
unfaithful to him ? It was generally with a shawl, 
with a hat with things and not with men. This 
tranquillity, this calm he had looked for in separating 
himself from her, had he found them after her 
departure ? Alas ! no. There was less of it all in 
his home. Once upon a time he could pour out his 
troubles, he could indulge in injuries and misrepre- 
sentations, he could show all he suffered and excite 
the pity of those who caused his sufferings, and now 
his anguish was solitary, his jealousy had become 
rage ; for formerly he could at least, when he sus- 
pected anything, prevent Mimi from going out, keep 
her beside him in his own possession, and now he 
met her in the street on the arm of her new lover, 
and he had to go out of his way to let her pass, 
happy, no doubt, and bent on pleasure. 

This wretched existence lasted three or four 
months. Very gradually calmness returned. Marcel, 
who had gone on a long journey to help him to 
forget Musette, returned to Paris and again took 
up his quarters with Rodolphe. They consoled each 
other. 

362 



Rodolphe and Mile. Mimi 

One day one Sunday crossing the Luxembourg 
Rodolphe met Mimi magnificently dressed. 

She was going to a ball. She made a sign of 
recognition with her head, to which he responded 
by a bow. This meeting gave his heart a great 
blow, but agitation was less painful than usual. He 
walked for some time about the gardens, and then 
returned home. When Marcel came in in the 
evening he found him at work. 

"Ah!" said Marcel, bending over his shoulder, 
" you are at work. Verses ? " 

"Yes," replied Rodolphe in a joyful tone. "I 
don't think the little beast is quite dead yet. I have 
been at it for four hours. I have found the spirit 
of the old days. I have seen Mimi." 

"Ah!" said Marcel in disquieted tones. "And 
where are you ? " 

"Don't be afraid," said Rodolphe. "We have 
gone no farther than a passing bow." 

"Truly? "said Marcel. 

"Truly. It is at an end between us. I feel that. 
But if I can work again, I pardon her." 

"If all is ended as much as that," said Marcel, 
when he had finished reading Rodolphe's verses, 
" why make verses to her? " 

"Alas!" replied the poet, "I make my poetry 
where I find it." 

For a week he worked at the little poem. When 
he had finished it he went to read it to Marcel, who 
pronounced approval ; and this encouraged Rodolphe 
to continue to work the vein which he had found 
again. 

"For," said Marcel, "the pain of parting from 
363 



The Latin Quarter 

Mimi is not so great if you can always live with her 
shadow. After that," he added, smiling, "instead 
of preaching to others, I should do well to preach 
to myself, for Musette still fills my heart. Well, 
perhaps we shall not be always young men foiled by 
such creatures." 

"Alas!" rejoined Rodolphe ; "there is no need 
to say to our youth, ' Begone ! ' " 

"That is true," said Marcel. "And there are 
days when I feel I should like to be a real old 
gentleman member of the Institute, decorated with 
several orders, and quit of the Musettes of this 
world. Deuce take me if I would return to it ! 
And you," added the artist, laughing, "would you 
like to be sixty?" 

"I should like sixty francs better," replied 
Rodolphe. 

A few days after this Mile. Mimi being in a cafe* 
with Vicomte Paul, opened a review, in whose 
columns were the verses Rodolphe had made. 

" Excellent ! " she cried laughingly. " Here is my 
friend Rodolphe again, who is reviling me in print." 

But when she had finished the verses she sat 
silent and dreamy. Vicomte Paul, guessing that 
she was thinking of Rodolphe, strove to divert 
her mind. 

" I am thinking of buying you a pair of earrings," 
he said. 

" Ah ! " said Mimi, "you have money." 

" And a Leghorn hat," continued Vicomte Paul. 

"No," said Mimi; "if you want to give me 
pleasure, buy me that," and she showed him the 
review in which she had read Rodolphe's poetry. 
364 



Rodolphe and Mile. Mimi 

" Ah, no, not that," said the Vicomte vexedly. 

"Very well," coldly said Mimi, "I will buy it 
myself with the money I earn myself. At all 
events, I should prefer it not to be with your 
money." 

And for two days Mimi went back to her old 
flower-mounting 1 work and earned enough to buy 
the book. She learned Rodolphe's poetry by heart, 
and in order to make Vicomte Paul furious she 
repeated the verses constantly to her friends. * 



It was the 24th of December, and the Quartier 
Latin wore an unusual aspect. From four o'clock 
in the afternoon the offices of the pawnbrokers, the 
second-hand clothes shops and booksellers' shops 
had been surrounded by an eager crowd, which 
pushed on later in the evening to take the eating- 
and grocers' shops by assault. If the shopmen 
had had a hundred arms like Briareus, they could 
not have served the customers quick enough. 
At the bakers' they formed a queue as if there 
was a famine. The wine merchants poured out 
the product of many a vintage, and a skilful statis- 
tician would have had all his work to number up the 
hams and sausages exposed for sale at the famous 
Borel of the Rue Dauphine. On this particular 
evening old Cretaine (nick -named Petit -Pain) 
exhausted eighteen editions of his butter cakes. 
All night long stir and bustle and voices sounded 
in the lodging - houses, whose windows flared 

* See Appendix. 
365 



The Latin Quarter 

with light, and a general air of festivity pre- 
vailed. 

The antique custom of the midnight-meal was 
being celebrated. 

That evening, about ten o'clock, Marcel and 
Rodolphe returned to their lodging in a very de- 
pressed state of mind. Passing up by the Rue 
Dauphine, they looked at the immense collection 
of good things displayed in a ready-cooked pork- 
butcher's shop, and they stopped for an instant on 
the pavement tantalised by the fragrance of the 
gastronomical wares. The two Bohemians, as they 
stood there, resembled the individual in the Spanish 
romance, whose hungry gaze shrivelled up the hams 
as he looked at them. 

"That is called truffled turkey," said Marcel, 
pointing to a magnificent bird whose semi-transparent 
pink epidermis afforded visions of the Perigord 
tubercles with which it was stuifed. " I have seen 
irreverent folks eat that without first falling on their 
knees," added the painter, casting such burning 
glances at the turkey that they might have roasted it. 

"And what do you think of this shoulder of 
mutton?" chimed in Rodolphe. "What glorious 
colour ! One might imagine it just taken from that 
butcher's shop that is in one of Jordaen's pictures. 
Shoulder of mutton is the favourite food of the gods 
and of Madame Chandelier, my godmother." 

"Just look at these fish," said Marcel, turning his 
gaze upon some trout. "They are the most skilful 
swimmers of the aquatic species. These small 
creatures, who wear the most unpretentious air, 
have the power, nevertheless, of amassing revenues 
366 



Rodolphe and Mile. Mimi 

by their extraordinary activity. Only imagine that 
they will ascend a torrent with as much facility as we 
would accept an invitation to supper ! I could eat 
them ! " 

4 'And yonder, that pile of gilded fruit whose 
leaves resemble a panoply of sabres ; they are called 
bananas. They are the pippins of the tropics." 

"They may be," said Marcel. "I prefer this 
piece of beef, this ham, or this simple gammon 
cuirassed in clear jelly like amber." 

"You are right," replied Rodolphe. " Ham is 
the friend of man, when he gets it. All the same, I 
should not refuse this pheasant." 

"I should think not. It is the dish of crowned 
heads." 

And as in continuing their way they met joyous 
processions careering along, feting Momus, Bacchus, 
Comus and all the gourmand divinities whose names 
end in us, they asked each other who was the 
personage named Gamache whose wedding was 
celebrated with such a huge provisioning. 

Marcel was the first who recalled the date and 
fete of the day. 

"To-day is the celebration of the Reve"illon the 
midnight meal," he said. 

" Do you remember what we did on it last year? " 
said Rodolphe. 

"Yes," replied Marcel. "We were at Momus'. 
It was Barbemuche who paid. I could never have 
believed that such a delicate-looking girl as Phe"mie 
could have put away such a quantity of sausage." 

" What a misfortune that Momus no longer cares 
for our patronage ! " said Rodolphe. 
367 



The Latin Quarter 

" Alas ! " said Marcel, " the seasons follow on, but 
do not resemble each other." 

"Are you not going to keep Reve"illon?" asked 
Rodolphe. 

"With whom and with what?" demanded the 
painter. 

"With me, then." 

" And the wherewithal ? " 

" Wait a bit," said Rodolphe. " I am going into 
this cafe where I know men who play high. I will 
borrow a few sesterces of one of luck's favourites, 
and I will buy something to wash down a sardine or 
a pig's trotter." 

"Go then," said Marcel. "I am famishing. I 
will wait for you." 

Rodolphe entered the cafe, many of whose 
frequenters he knew. A gentleman who had just 
won three hundred francs in three throws of the ball 
found real pleasure in lending the poet a forty-sous 
piece, handing it to him with the ill-humoured air 
which the fever of gambling bestows. At another 
time and another place than round a green table he 
might possibly have lent him forty francs. 

" Well? " asked Marcel, as Rodolphe returned. 

" Here are the receipts," said the poet, showing 
the money. 

" A crust and a drop," said Marcel. 

With this limited amount they were able, however, 
to buy bread, wine, a bit of cooked meat, some 
tobacco, light, and firing. 

They went home to the lodging, where each occu- 
pied a separate chamber. Marcel's lodging, which 
served him for a studio, being the larger, was chosen 
368 



Rodolphe and Mile. Mimi 

for the hall of festivities, and the two friends prepared 
together for their banquet. 

But at the little table to which they sat down, beside 
the fire sputtering 1 with damp poor wood that emitted 
neither flame nor heat, there came and joined them a 
melancholy guest the phantom of the vanished past. 

They remained sitting for full an hour, silent and 
thoughtful, both probably occupied with similar 
thoughts, and each striving to hide them. Marcel 
was the first to break silence. 

"No," he said to Rodolphe, "it wasn't quite this 
we promised ourselves." 

" What do you mean? " said Rodolphe. 

"Ah! Hang it !" replied Marcel. " Don't put it 
on with me. You are thinking of what is best for- 
gotten. I also ; I don't deny it. Well, what then ? 
Let it be for the last time. To the deuce with the 
memories which make the wine taste sour and our- 
selves wretched when all the world is amusing itself! " 
cried Marcel, as the shouts of merriment sounded from 
the rooms adjoining theirs. "Come, now, let us think 
of other things, and let it be for the last time." 

" That is what we always say. And yet " said 

Rodolphe, dropping back into his thoughts. 

" And yet we are for ever recurring to them," said 
Marcel. " That is because, instead of frankly seek- 
ing forgetfulness, we make the most futile things 
pretexts for recalling these memories ; that is be- 
cause, above all, we insist on living in the same 
localities where the creatures have lived who have 
been our torment. We are the slaves of habit more 
than of passion. It is this environment which must 
be broken through, this captivity in which we ridicu- 
2B 369 



The Latin Quarter 

lously and shamefully waste ourselves. Well, the 
past is the past ; we must snap the chains still holding 
us to it. The hour is come for us to go forward and 
look no more behind us ; we have lived our life of 
youthfulness and heedlessness and absurdities. All 
that was very fine, and would make a good romance ; 
but this farce of amorous folly, this waste of days, 
thrown away with a prodigality which seems to 
think it has eternity to live in, all this must have an 
end. Under pain of justifying the scorn it holds us 
in and that in which we hold ourselves, it is not 
possible for us to live longer on the outskirts of 
society, almost on the outskirts of life. For is it 
existence which we are leading? And this independ- 
ence, this freedom of manners we vaunted so highly, 
is it not a very middling advantage ? True liberty is 
the power to live among others and exist for one's 
self ; is that our mode of life ? No, the first scurvy 
fellow that comes along, whose name we would not 
bear for a poor five minutes, takes advantage himself 
of the banter to which we treat him and becomes our 
master the day we borrow a hundred sous of him, 
which he lends us after making us spend a hundred 
crowns' worth of excuses and humiliation. For my 
part I have had enough of it. Poetry does not dwell 
only in the disorder of existence, in suddenly trumped- 
up pleasures and amusements, in love affairs which 
last about the length of a burning candle's life, in 
more or less eccentric rebellions against the pre- 
judices which will eternally govern the world. A 
dynasty is more easily overthrown than a custom, 
even though it be a ridiculous one. It is not enough 
to throw a summer coat over one in December to 
370 



Rodolphe and Mile. Mimi 

have talent, one can be a poet and a true artist even 
if one keeps one's feet warm and eats three meals a 
day, Whatever one may say, or whatever one may 
do, if one would achieve anything one must follow 
the ordinary road. These words astonish you a little 
perhaps, friend Rodolphe ; you will say I am de- 
stroying my idols, you will call me corrupted, but all 
the same, what I say is the expression of my sincere 
conviction. Without my being aware of it, it has 
worked a slow and salutary change within me ; reason 
has entered into my soul burglariously and from with- 
out, if you will, and in spite of myself perhaps, but 
it has entered, and has proved to me that I was in a 
wrong path, and that there will be at once ridicule 
and danger to meet in persevering in it. For 
example, what would happen if we continue this 
monotonous and useless mode of life? We are 
nearing our thirty years unknown, solitary, dis- 
gusted with everything and with ourselves, full of 
envy against those whom we see attaining their 
desired ends, whatever those may be, forced in order 
to keep the breath of life in us to have recourse to 
mean, parasitical ways. And do not imagine I am 
drawing a fanciful picture expressly for the purpose 
of annoying you. I do not look systematically 
through smoked glasses at the future, but neither 
do I see it through rose-coloured ones any the more 
for that. Until now the life we have led has been 
imposed upon us ; we had the excuse of necessity. 
Now we shall no longer be excusable ; and if we do 
not enter into the common ordinary life around us it 
is because we will not, for the obstacles we had to 
contend with exist no longer." 
37* 



The Latin Quarter 

" Ah," said Rodolphe, " what are you driving at? 
What is the aim and use of this lecture ? " 

"You understand me perfectly well," replied 
Marcel in the same grave tone. "Just now I saw 
you as I was, overcome by memories which brought 
you regrets for the days that are gone. You thought 
of Mimi as I thought of Musette. You would have 
had as I would your mistress by your side. Well, 
1 1 tell you that we must not, you nor I, think of 
/ them ; that we have not been created and put into 
/ the world only to sacrifice our existence to these 
| commonplace Manons, and that the Chevalier Des- 
\ grieux, who is so handsome, so true and so poetic, 
\ would not save himself from ridicule except by his 
youth and the illusions which he preserved. At 
twenty years old he might follow his mistress to 
the Isles without ceasing to be interesting ; but at 
five-and-twenty he would have put Manon outside 
the door, and he would have been right. We may 
well say we are old, my dear friend ; we have lived 
too much and too fast ; our hearts are battered, and 
there are only the broken pieces left. It is not 
possible to come out scatheless from three years of 
love-making with a Musette or a Mimi. For me 
all is well over, and as I wish completely to divorce 
myself of my memories of her, I am actually going 
to throw into the fire some little things which at 
sundry times she has left behind with me at our 
various halts and that force me to think of her 
when I chance upon them." 

And Marcel, who had risen, went to take from a 
drawer a little pasteboard box in which lay the 
souvenirs of Musette a faded bouquet, a sash, a 
bit of ribbon and several letters. 
372 



Rodolphe and Mile. Mimi 

" Come," he said to the poet, "follow my example, 
friend Rodolphe." 

"Well, be it so," cried Rodolphe, with an effort. 
"You are right. I too will finish with this girl of 
the pale hands." 

And rising hurriedly he went and found a little 
parcel containing his souvenirs of Mimi, which were 
of much the same kind as those of which Marcel was 
making an inventory. 

" It happens luckily," murmured the painter ; 
" these odds and ends will help to light up the fire, 
which is nearly out." 

"Yes," said Rodolphe, "the temperature here is 
enough to generate white bears." 

"Come, now," said Marcel, "let us burn them 
together. See, that is Musette's prose, which burns 
like punch thrown in. She was very fond of punch. 
Come, friend Rodolphe. Attention ! " 

And for some minutes they took turns in throwing 
into the flames, which began to blaze up clear and 
fiercely, the objects of their dead and gone love. 

" Poor Musette ! " said Marcel in a low tone as he 
gazed at the last thing he had in his hands. It was a 
little faded bouquet composed of wild flowers. "Poor 
Musette ! She was very pretty, though, and she 
loved me immensely, didn't she, little flowers ? Her 
heart told you so, did they not, the day she put you 
in her waistband ? Poor little bouquet ! you seem to 
be asking mercy of me. Very well. Yes, but on one 
condition. It is that you never speak again to me 
of her. Never ! never ! " And profiting by a moment 
when he thought Rodolphe did not see him, he 
slipped the bouquet into the breast of his coat. 
373 



The Latin Quarter 

" So much the worse. He has more nerve than I 
have. I am cheating 1 ," murmured the painter to 
himself. 

But then, casting a furtive look at Rodolphe, he 
saw the poet, who had arrived at the end of his 
auto-da-fe, secretly putting in his pocket a little cap 
of Mimi's, after he had tenderly kissed it. 

" Ah," muttered Marcel, "he is as great a coward 
as I am." 

At the very moment Rodolphe turned to go into 
his room for the night two little taps came at 
Marcel's door. 

"Who the deuce is that at this time of night?" 
said the painter, going to open the door. 

A cry of amazement escaped him when the door 
was opened. 

It was Mimi. 

As the room was very dark Rodolphe did not at 
first recognise his mistress, only distinguishing a 
woman. He supposed her to be only one of Marcel's 
temporary conquests, and discreetly turned to retire. 

" I am disturbing you," said Mimi, who remained 
standing on the threshold. 

At the sound of her voice Rodolphe fell into a 
chair as if struck by a blow. 

"Good night," said Mimi to him, as she ap- 
proached and took his hand, which he mechanically 
yielded to her. 

"What the devil brought you here?" demanded 
Marcel. " And at this hour? " 

" I am very cold," replied Mimi shiveringly. " I 

saw light in your window as I was passing in the 

street, and though it was so late, I came up." And 

she was still trembling ; her voice had the crystal- 

374 



Rodolphe and Mile. Mimi 

line deep sound which pierced Rodolphe's heart like 
a funeral bell and filled it with a great fear. He 
looked furtively but closely at her. It was not 
Mimi ; it was her shadow. 

Marcel made her sit down by the fire. 

Mimi smiled at the sight of the beautiful flames, 
which danced joyously up the chimney. ''That is 
very nice," she said, stretching her little purple 
hands over the fire. "By the way, Monsieur Marcel, 
you don't know why I have come here to you? " 

" Upon my honour no," replied he. 

"Well, "said Mimi, "I simply came to ask you 
if you think I could have a room here. They have 
turned me out of my lodging because I owe a 
month's rent, and I don't know where to go." 

"The devil!" said Marcel, with a head-shake. 
"We are not in good odour with our landlord, and 
our recommendation would be worse than no good, 
my poor child." 

"What can I do, then," said Mimi, "since I 
don't know where to go ? " 

"Oh!" said Marcel. "You are no longer 
Vicomtesse ? " 

" Ah ! good heavens ! no, no longer." 

" But since when is that? " 

" For more than two months past." 

"You gave the young Vicomte a bad time of it? " 

"No," she said, casting a veiled glance at Ro- 
dolphe, who had placed himself in the darkest 
corner of the room, "the Vicomte was savage with 
me on account of some verses which were composed 
about me. We quarrelled, and I sent him packing. 
He is a hateful, miserly prig, so there." 
375 



The Latin Quarter 

"Still," said Marcel, "he decked you out pretty 
smartly, judging by what I saw the day I met 
you." 

"Well," said Mimi, "only think that he kept 
everything back when I left him, and I heard after- 
wards that he put all my things in a lottery at a 
table d'hote where we sometimes used to dine. He 
is very rich, this fellow, and with all his money he 
is an avaricious, economical dunderhead stupid as 
a goose. He would not let me drink wine un- 
diluted and made me fast on Fridays. Would you 
believe that he made me wear black woollen stock- 
ings, because they did not soil as quickly as white 
ones ? What a notion ! In short, he bored me 
frightfully. Yes, I can tell you that it was purga- 
tory to be with him." 

"And does he know of your present position?" 
asked Marcel. 

"I haven't seen him, and I don't want to see 
him," replied Mimi. " He makes me seasick when 
I think of him. I would sooner die of hunger than 
ask him for a sou." 

"But," continued Marcel, "since you left him, 
you have not been alone ? " 

"Ah !" quickly cried Mimi, "but I have, Monsieur 
Marcel. I have worked for my living ; only, as a 
flower-maker's calling was not a very lucrative one, 
I have found another. I am an artist's model, if 
you have employment for me," she added gaily. 
And noticing a movement of Rodolphe, from whom 
she did not take her eyes all the time she was 
talking to his friend, Mimi continued 

" Ah ! but I pose only for the head and the hands. 
376 



Rodolphe and Mile. Mimi 

I have plenty of employment, and two or three 
people owe me money. I shall receive it in a day or 
two. That is the reason I am in want of a lodging. 
When I have some money I shall return to my 
proper rooms. Ah ! " she went on, looking at the 
table where the repast which the two friends had 
hardly touched still lay, "you are going to sup? " 

"No," said Marcel, "we are not hungry." 

" You are very lucky," ingenuously said Mimi. 

At these words Rodolphe felt his heart give a 
horrible bound. He made a sign to Marcel, who 
understood. 

"Well," said the artist, "since you are here, 
Mimi, you can take pot luck. I had intended to 
keep Rev&llon with Rodolphe, and then well, we 
began about other things." 

"Then I came at a good time," said Mimi, as 
she cast a famished look at the food on the table. 
" I have not dined, my friend," she said in an under- 
tone to the artist, so that she could not be heard by 
Rodolphe, who was stifling his mouth up with his 
handkerchief to prevent his sobs being audible. 

"Come, Rodolphe," said Marcel to his friend, 
"let us all three have supper together." 

" No," said the poet, not stirring from his corner. 

"Does it annoy you, Rodolphe, that I came?" 
softly asked Mimi. "Where would you have me 
go?" 

" No, Mimi," said Rodolphe. " It only gives me 
great pain to see you like this. " 

"It is my own fault, Rodolphe. I do not com- 
plain. What is past is past. Don't trouble any 
more about me. Can you no longer be my friend 
377 



The Latin Quarter 

because you have been something else? Yes, you 
can isn't it so ? Well, then, don't look so crossly 
at me, and come and sit down with us." 

She rose and went to take his hand, but she was 
so weak that she could not take a step, and fell back 
into the chair. 

"The heat has overcome me," she said; "I 
can't stand." 

"Come," said Marcel to Rodolphe, "come and 
keep us company." 

The poet came to the table and sat down with 
them. Mimi was very bright and animated. 

When the frugal supper had ended Marcel said to 
Mimi 

"My dear child, it will not be possible to find a 
room for you in this house." 

"Then I must go," she said, trying to rise. 

" No, no," said Marcel, " there is another way of 
settling the business. You sleep in my room here, 
and I will go and be with Rodolphe." 

"That will put you to inconvenience," said Mimi, 
" but it will not last long only a couple of days." 

"Well, then, it will not put us to any inconveni- 
ence," said Marcel. " So that is settled. Here you 
are at home, and I am going to Rodolphe's room. 
Good night, Mimi ; sleep well." 

" Thank you," she said, giving her hand to Marcel 
and to Rodolphe as they went out. 

"Will you like to lock the door?" asked Marcel 
as they neared the door. 

" Why should I ? " said Mimi, looking at Rodolphe ; 
" I am not afraid." 

When the two friends were alone together in 
378 



Rodolphe and Mile. Mimi 

Marcel's room, which was on the same floor, Marcel 
said sharply to Rodolphe 

" Well, what are you going to do now ? " 

" I " stammered Rodolphe, " I don't know." 

" Come, come, don't make any fuss about it. Go 
to Mimi, but if you go I prophesy you will be 
together again." 

"If it was Musette who had come back, what 
would you do ? " demanded Rodolphe of his friend. 

"If it was Musette who was in the next room," 
replied Marcel, " eh well, frankly, I think in a 
quarter of an hour I should not be in this one." 

"Well," said Rodolphe, "I have more courage 
than you. I stay here." 

"We shall see," said Marcel, who was already in 
bed. " Are you going to lie down ? " 

"Certainly, yes," said Rodolphe. 

But in the middle of the night Marcel, waking, 
found he was gone. 

Next morning he went and knocked softly at the 
door of the room in which Mimi was. 

" Come in," she said. Seeing it was he, she 
signed to him to speak low, in order not to disturb 
Rodolphe, who was asleep. He was sitting in an 
easy chair which he had drawn close beside the bed, 
his head resting on the pillow beside Mimi's. 

" Is that how you have passed the night? " asked 
Marcel in astonishment. 

"Yes," replied the girl. 

Rodolphe awoke suddenly, and after kissing Mimi 
he gave his hand to Marcel, who looked considerably 
embarrassed. 

" I am going to find some money for breakfast," 
379 



The Latin Quarter 

Rodolphe said to the painter. "You can stay and 
keep Mimi company." 

4 * Well," asked Marcel of the girl when they 
were alone, "what has happened during the night?" 

"Very sad things," said Mimi; "Rodolphe still 
loves me." 

"I know that." 

"Yes, you wanted to separate me from him. I 
am not angry with you, Marcel. You were right ; 
I have done the poor fellow great wrong." 

"And you," asked Marcel, "do you still love 
him ? " 

"Ah! do I love him?" she said, clasping her 
hands. "It is that which tortures me. I am very 
much changed, and, my poor friend, it has taken 
but a short time for that." 

"Well, since he loves you and you love him, and 
you cannot separate from each other, stay together, 
and try to keep to the arrangement." 

" It is impossible," said Mimi. 

" Why ? " demanded Marcel. " It would certainly 
be much more reasonable for you to part from 
each other, but in order never to see each other 
again you would have to live a thousand miles 
apart." 

" Before long I shall be farther than that." 

"Eh? What do you mean ?" 

"Don't tell Rodolphe; it would grieve him too 
much. I am going away for ever." 

"But where?" 

"Listen, my poor Marcel," said Mimi sobbingly. 
" Look ! " and raising the sheet a little, she showed 
the artist her shoulders and neck and arms. 
380 



Rodolphe and Mile. Mimi 

" Ah, good God ! " cried Marcel in tones of 
grievous surprise. ''Poor girl!" 

"Yes, I don't deceive myself, my friend, do I ? 
I am going to die soon." 

" But how have you come to this in so short a 
time?" 

"Ah!" replied Mimi, "with the life I have led 
the last two months it is not astonishing. All the 
nights passed in crying, the days in fireless studios, 
poor nourishment, the grief, and you don't know 
all. I tried to poison myself with Javel water. 
They saved me from its effects, but not for long, 
as you see. And I have never been very strong. 
It is all my own fault ; if I had remained quietly 
with Rodolphe it would not have happened. My 
poor friend ! Once more I am in his arms, but it 
will not be for long. The last dress he will give 
me will be the white one they will bury me in. Ah, 
if you knew what I suffer to think that I am going 
to die ! Rodolphe knows that I am ill. He was an 
hour without speaking a word when he saw my 
arms and my thin shoulders. He could hardly 
recognise his Mimi. Alas ! my mirror itself does 
not know me. Ah, well, what does it signify? I 
was very pretty, and he loved me dearly. Ah, my 
God ! " she went on, hiding her face in Marcel's 
hands. " I am going to leave you and Rodolphe. 
Ah, my God ! " and her voice was lost in sobs. 

" Come, Mimi," said Marcel, " don't fret like that. 
You will get better. You only need care and rest." 

"Ah, no," said Mimi. "It is all at an end. I 
feel it is ; and when I came here last night it took 
me an hour to mount the stairs. If I had found a 



The Latin Quarter 

girl here I should pretty quickly have gone out 
again by the window, though he was free, of course, 
since we were no longer together ; but, Marcel, I 
was certain he still loved me. It is on that 
account" and she burst into tears "that I don't 
want to die directly ; but it is all at an end. Marcel, 
he must be very good, my poor friend, to have re- 
ceived me back after all the wrong I have done him. 
Ah, God is cruel and unjust not to leave me time to 
make Rodolphe forget the grief I have caused him. 
He knows the state I am in. I would not have him 
lie down beside me, for it seems to me that I 
have already the corruption of death in my body. 
We have spent the night in tears and talking of 
old times. Ah, how sad it is, my friend, to see 
behind us happiness of which, when we passed it, 
we took no heed ! I have fire in my bosom, and 
when I move my limbs it seems as if they must 
break. Give me my gown, Marcel. I am going 
to see with the cards whether Rodolphe will bring 
back any money. I should like to have a real 
good breakfast with you ; it won't do me any 
harm. God can't make me worse than I am. 
Look ! " she added, showing her cards, which she 
had just cut, " the ace of spades, and it is black 
the colour of death. And here are clubs," she 
added cheerily. " Yes, there is money coming." 

Marcel was speechless before the delirious sense 
of this poor creature, who was, as she said, already 
yielding to the corruptions of the grave. 

About an hour later Rodolphe came back. He 
was accompanied by Schaunard and Gustave Colline. 
The musician wore his summer coat. He had sold 
382 



Rodolphe and Mile. Mimi 

his cloth coat and lent Rodolphe the money on 
learning" that Mimi was ill. Colline, on his part, 
had sold some books. Anyone might have bought 
one of his arms or legs sooner than he would part 
with his dear books ; but Schaunard had reminded 
him that nothing could be done with an arm or a 
leg. Mimi made an effort at gaiety to receive her 
old friends. 

" I am not naughty any longer," she said, " and 
Rodolphe has forgiven me. If he will keep me with 
him I will put on sabots, and make a fright of my- 
self. It is all the same to me. Silk is decidedly not 
good for my health," she added, with a ghastly smile. 

At Marcel's suggestion Rodolphe sent to ask one 
of his friends, who had recently entered the medical s 
profession, to come and see Mimi. It was the same 
one who had attended little Francine. When he 
came they left him alone with Mimi. 

Rodolphe, warned by Marcel, was already aware 
of the danger his mistress was in. When the 
doctor had examined Mimi, he said to Rodolphe 

"You will not be able to keep her. Anything 
less than a miracle cannot save her. She must go 
to the hospital. I will give you a letter for la Pitie ; 
I know a resident doctor there, who will attend 
her most carefully. If she lives till the spring, she 
may be pulled through ; but if she remains here, 
she will be dead in a week." 

" I dare not suggest it to her," said Rodolphe. 

"I have told her myself," replied the doctor, 
"and she consents. To-morrow I will send you 
her letter of admission to the PitieV' 

" My friend," said Mimi to Rodolphe, "the doctor 
is right. You could not nurse me here. Perhaps at 
383 



The Latin Quarter 

the hospital they may cure me. I must be taken 
there. Ah, don't you see, I want so much to live 
now that I would gladly finish my days one hand in 
the fire and one in yours. Besides, you will come 
and see me. You must not be unhappy ; this young 
doctor tells me I shall be well taken care of; they 
give you chicken at the hospital, and they have fire. 
While I am nursing up you will be working to earn 
money ; and when I am cured I shall come and live 
with you. I have great hopes now. I shall come 
back as pretty as I used to be. I have already been 
ill at times before I knew you, but I got better. 
Nevertheless, I was not happy then ; I would much 
sooner have died. Now I have you, and we can be 
happy together ; they will save me again, for I will 
fight with all my power against this illness. I 
will drink all the vile stuff they can give me ; and if 
death takes me, it will be by force. Give me the little 
hand-mirror. I think I have got some colour. Yes," 
she went on, looking at herself in the glass, "there 
is my pretty pink coming back. And my hands 
see," she said, "they are still very nice, aren't 
they ? Kiss them once more ; it won't be the last 
time. There now, my poor friend," she said, 
flinging her arms round Rodolphe's neck and bury- 
ing her face in his dishevelled hair. 

Before leaving for the hospital she would have all 
her four Bohemian friends spend the evening with 
her. "Make me laugh," she said. "Gaiety is health 
to me. It is this nightcap of a Vicomte who has 
made me ill. He wanted to teach me to spell ; only 
think ! What on earth was I to do ? And his 
friends, what a company! a veritable poultry-yard, 
of which he was the peacock. He marked his linen 
384 



Rodolphe and Mile. Mimi 

himself. If he ever marries, I feel sure it will be he 
who has the babies." 

Nothing" could be more heart-breaking 1 than the 
unhappy girl's dying efforts at gaiety. All the 
Bohemians made painful attempts to hide their tears 
and maintain the cheerful tone taken up by the poor 
girl, for whom fate was so fast weaving her last 
raiment. 

The day following the morning she was taken 
into the hospital Rodolphe received the bulletin of 
her condition. Mimi was no longer able to stand; 
they had to carry her into the ward. During the 
journey she had suffered terribly from the joltings 
of the cab. In the midst of all her pain the last 
thing that survives in a woman vanity still lived 
in her. Two or three times she had the cab stopped 
before the drapers' shops to see the smart things. 

On entering the ward indicated on her paper 
Mimi's heart was near to bursting. Something told 
her that it was within those bare and ghastly walls 
her life would end. She summoned up all the will 
left in her to hide the mournful impressions freezing 
her soul. 

When she was laid in her bed she embraced 
Rodolphe once more and bade him adieu, telling 
him to come and see her the following Sunday, 
which was visiting day. 

" The air here doesn't smell nice," she said to him ; 
" bring me flowers violets. There are still some." 

"Yes," said Rodolphe. "Adieu, till Sunday." 
And he drew the curtains about her bed. 

As she heard the departing steps of her lover on 
the floor Mimi was seized with an almost delirious 
access of fever. She tore aside the curtains, and 
sc 385 



The Latin Quarter 

leaning forward from the bed, she cried in a voice 
broken with tears and sobs 

" Rodolphe, take me away ! I want to go away ! " 

The Sister hurried to her, and tried to soothe her. 

" Oh ! " said Mimi, " I shall die here ! " 

On the Sunday morning, the day when he was to 
go and see Mimi, Rodolphe remembered that he had 
promised to take her some violets. Prompted by 
his poetical and amorous fancy, he went on foot 
through the fearful weather to seek for the flowers 
his little friend had asked for in the woods of 
d'Aulnay and Fontenay, where so many a time he 
had been with her. The scene that in the fair, 
sunny June and August days was so gay and de- 
lightful he found melancholy and frozen. For two 
hours he ransacked the snow-shrouded banks, lifting 
aside the brambles and the sods with a little stick 
and succeeding in getting a few poor little treasures 
just in a part of the wood neighbouring the pond of 
Plessis, which had been their favourite spot when 
they had gone to the woods. 

As he passed through the village of Chatillon on 
his way back to Paris Rodolphe met near the 
church a christening party, one among the number 
being a friend who stood godfather, with a member 
of the opera. 

" What the deuce are you doing here ? " asked the 
friend, amazed at seeing Rodolphe in the country. 

The poet told him what had happened. The 
young man, who knew Mimi, was very much dis- 
tressed by the story, and feeling in his pocket, he 
took out a bag of the christening bonbons and 
gave them to Rodolphe. 

386 



Rodolphe and Mile. Mimi 

"Poor little Mimi!" he said. "Give her these 
from me, and tell her I shall come and see her." 

"You must go soon, then, if you want to be in 
time," said Rodolphe as they parted. 

When Rodolphe reached the hospital, Mimi's eyes 
leapt to his. She could not move. 

"Ah ! " she cried, with the smile of eager desire 
gratified ; " there are my flowers." 

Rodolphe told her of his journey to the place 
which had been the paradise of their love. 

" Dear flowers ! " murmured the poor girl, kissing 
the violets. The bonbons also pleased her very 
much. "I am not quite forgotten, then; you are 
good, you young people. Ah, I love them all all 
your friends ! " she said to Rodolphe. 

The interview was almost cheerful. Schaunard 
and Colline joined Rodolphe while he was with her. 
The attendants had to turn them out at last, for 
visiting time was up. 

"Adieu," said Mimi, " till Thursday, without fail, 
and come early." 

The next day, when he came in in the evening, 
Rodolphe found a letter from one of the resident 
medical students of the hospital, the one to whose 
care he had commended the invalid. The letter 
contained only these words : 

"Mv FRIEND, I have bad news to send you. Number 8 
is dead. This morning on passing- through the ward I found 
the bed empty." 

Rodolphe sank upon a chair, and he did not shed 
a tear. When Marcel came in he found his friend 
in the same place, sitting as if stupefied. Silently 
he showed Marcel the letter. 

" Poor girl !" said Marcel. 
387 



The Latin Quarter 

" It is strange," cried Rodolphe. " I feel nothing 
of it. Did my love die when I learned that Mimi 
must die ? " 

"Who can tell? " murmured the painter. 

Mimi's death caused great grief in the Bohemian 
circle. A week later Rodolphe met in the street the 
young doctor who had announced Mimi's death to 
him. 

" Ah, my dear Rodolphe," he said as he came up, 
"forgive me the suffering my stupidity must have 
caused you." 

" What do you mean ? " said Rodolphe, surprised. 

"What," said the doctor, "you don't know? 
You have not seen her again ? " 

" Whom ? " cried Rodolphe. 

"Her Mimi." 

" What? " said the poet, turning deadly pale. 

" I was mistaken when I wrote you the sad in- 
telligence. I was the victim of an error, and this is 
how. I was away from the hospital for two days. 
When I returned, in making my round I found your 
wife's bed empty. I asked the Sister where the sick 
girl was, and she told me that she had died in the 
night. This is what had occurred. During my 
absence Mimi had been removed from that bed and 
from the ward. Into number 8 bed, from which 
she had been taken, another woman had been put, 
who died the same day. This will explain to you 
my mistake. On the morning of the day I wrote to 
you I found Mimi in a neighbouring ward. Your 
absence had put her into a terrible state. She gave 
me a letter for you. I have taken it to your house." 

"Ah, my God!" cried Rodolphe. "Since I be- 
lieved Mimi to be dead I have not been home. I 



Rodolphe and Mile. Mimi 

have slept here, there and anywhere among my 
friends. Mimi is alive ! Oh, my God ! What can 
she have thought of my absence ? Poor girl ! poor 
girl ! How is she ? When did you last see her ? " 

"The day before yesterday morning. She was 
neither better nor worse. She is terribly disturbed 
about you, thinking you must be ill." 

"Take me with you at once to la PitieV' said 
Rodolphe, "that I may see her." 

" Wait for me an instant," said the doctor, when 
they reached the door of the hospital. " I must ask 
the director for leave for you to go in." 

Rodolphe waited for a quarter of an hour in the 
vestibule. When the doctor returned he took 
Rodolphe by the hand, and said 

"My friend, suppose the letter I wrote to you a 
week ago was true ? " 

"What?" said Rodolphe, supporting himself by 
an iron rail. "Mimi " 

" This morning at four o'clock." 

"Take me to the amphitheatre," said Rodolphe, 
"that I may see her." 

"She is no longer there," said the doctor, as he 
pointed to a great vehicle standing in the courtyard, 
drawn up before the door of a pavilion above which 
was written "Amphitheatre." He added, "She is 
there." 

It was, in fact, the van in which the bodies of the 
unclaimed dead were transported to the paupers' 
graveyard. 

" Adieu," said Rodolphe to the doctor. 

" Shall I come with you? " he asked. 

"No," said Rodolphe, turning away; "I would 
rather be alone." 

389 



XXIII 
YOUTH COMES BUT ONCE 

A YEAR after Mimi's death Rodolphe and Marcel, 
Jr\. who did not part from each other, inaugurated 
their entry into the official world with a banquet. 
Marcel, who had at last found his way into the 
Salon, had exhibited two pictures, one of which had 
been bought by a rich Englishman, who had formerly 
been one of Musette's admirers. With the fruits of 
this sale, and of that of a Government commission, 
Marcel had partly liquidated his old debts. He had 
furnished decent apartments for himself and set up a 
proper studio. Almost at the same time Schaunard 
and Rodolphe had appeared before the public which 
makes fame and fortune, the one with an album of 
melodies which were sung at all the concerts and 
laid the foundation of his renown, the other with a 
book which occupied the attention of the critics for 
some months. As to Barbemuche, he had long re- 
nounced Bohemianism ; Gustave Colline had come 
into an inheritance and made an advantageous 
marriage. He gave musical soirees, with light re- 
freshments. 

One evening to Rodolphe, seated in an easy chair, 
with his feet on his own carpet, came Marcel in a 
state of great excitement. 

" You don't know what has happened to me," he 
said. 

390 



Youth comes but once 

" No," replied the poet ; " I know I have been to 
your rooms, that you were there, and I was not 
admitted." 

" I heard you. Guess who was with me." 

"How should I know?" 

" Musette, who tumbled up against me last night." 

"Musette! You have found Musette?" said 
Rodolphe in tones of regret. 

" Don't upset yourself ; there has been no resump- 
tion of hostilities. Musette had been spending her 
last night in Bohemia with me." 

"How?" 

" She is going to be married." 

"Ah, bah!" said Rodolphe. "To whom, my lord?" 

" Her riding-master, who was tutor to her last 
admirer. A queer fish apparently. Musette said to 
him, * My dear sir, before I definitely and certainly 
give you my hand, and enter the mairie with you, I 
want a week's liberty. I have business to settle, 
and I want to drink my last glass of champagne, 
dance my last quadrille and embrace my lover 
Marcel, who is a gentleman of importance, you 
know.' And for a week the dear creature has 
been seeking me. She found me last night, just at 
the very moment I was thinking of her. Ah, my 
friend, the night has been a melancholy one. There 
was to be no more of it all no more. We looked 
like the bad copy of a masterpiece. I even made, 
apropos of this last parting, a little ballad of regrets, 
with which I am going to make you cry, if you will 
allow me." And Marcel began to hum the couplets 
he had written.* 

* See Appendix. 
391 



The Latin Quarter 

4 'Well, now," said Marcel when he had finished, 
4 'you are reassured; my love for Musette is quite 
dead since poetry has come into it," ironically 
added he, showing- the manuscript of his song-. 

"Poor friend!" said Rodolphe, "your spirit is 
wrestling with your heart. Be careful it does not 
kill it." 

"That is done," replied the painter. " We have 
closed up, old man ; we are dead and buried. Youth 
has but one time. Where do you dine to-night? " 

" If you like," said Rodolphe, "we will go and 
dine for twelve sous in our old restaurant of the 
Rue du Four, where they had Delft plates and 
where we used to be so hungry when we had done 
eating. " 

"Not I. No," replied Marcel. "I willingly 
consent to look back upon the past, but it must 
be through a good bottle of wine and seated in 
a comfortable easy chair. Ah, what do you want 
to say? That I am corrupted? I no longer care 
for anything but what is good and comfortable." 



THE END 



392 



APPENDIX 



RODOLPHE'S poem, referred to on page 365, is given here in the 
original, followed by a literal prose translation. A similar render- 
ing of Marcel's couplets (p. 391) follows. It has seemed well 
to give the French verses in both cases, that their peculiar charm 
might not be missed. A. R. W. 

RODOLPHE'S POEM 

Alors que je voulais choisir une maitresse 
Et qu'un jour le hasard fit rencontrer nos pas, 
J'ai mis entre tes mains mon coeur et ma jeunesse 
Et je t'ai dit : Fais-en tout ce que tu voudras. 

Ht^las ! ta volonte fut cruelle, ma chere : 

Dans tes mains ma jeunesse est restee en lambeaux, 

Mon coeur s'est en Eclats brisd comme du verre, 

Et ma chambre est le cimetiere 

Ou sont enterre's les morceaux 

De ce qui t'aima tant nagoiere. 

Entre nous maintenant, n i, ni c'est fini, 

Je ne suis plus qu'un spectre et tu n'es qu'un fant6me, 

Et sur notre amour mort et bien enseveli, 

Nous allons, si tu veux, chanter le dernier psaume. 

Pourtant ne prenons point un air e'en! trop haut, 
Nous pourrions tous !es deux n'avoir pas la voix sure ; 
Choisissons un mineur grave et sans fioriture ; 
Moi je ferai la basse et toi le soprano. 

2 c 2 393 



Appendix 



Mi, rd, mi, do, rd, la. Pas cet air, ma petite ! 
S'il entendait cet air que tu chantais jadis, 
Mon cceur, tout mort qu'il est, tressaillirait bien vite, 
Et ressusciterait a ce De profond is. 

Do, mi, fa, sol, mi, do. Celui-ci me rapelle 
Une valse a deux temps qui me fit bien du mal, 
Le fifre au rire aigu raillait le violoncelle, 
Qui pleurait sous 1'archet ses notes de cristal. , 

Sol, do, do, si, si, la. Point cet air, je t'en prie, 
Nous 1'avons, 1'an dernier, ensemble re"pe^ 
Avec des Allemands qui chantaient leur patrie 
Dans les bois de Meudon, par une nuit d'et. 

Eh bien ! ne chantons pas, restons-en la, ma chere ; 
Et pour n'y plus penser, pour n'y plus revenir, 
Stir nos amours d^funts, sans haine et sans colere, 
Jetons en souriant un dernier souvenir. 

Nous etions bien heureux dans ta petite chambre 
Quand ruisselait la pluie et que soufflait le vent ; 
Assis dans le fauteuil, pres de 1'atre, en de"cembre, 
Aux lueurs de tes yeux j'ai reve^ bien sou vent. 

La houille petillait ; en chauffant sur les cendres, 
La bouilloire chantait son refrain re"gulier, 
Et faisait un orchestre au bal des salamandres 
Qui voltigeaient dans le foyer. 

Feuilletant un roman, paresseuse et frileuse, 
Tandis que tu fermais tes yeux ensommeill^s, 
Moi je rajeunissais ma jeunesse amoureuse, 
Mes levres sur tes mains et mon coeur a tes pieds. 

Aussi, quand on entrait, la porte ouverte a peine, 
On sentait le parfum d'amour et de gaite* 
Dont notre chambre tait du matin au soir pleine, 
Car le bonheur aimait notre hospitalite". 

Puis 1'hiver s'en alia ; par la fenetre ouverte, 
Le printemps un matin vint nous donner 1'eVeil, 
Et ce jour-la tous deux dans la campagne verte 
Nous allames courir au-devant du soleil. 

394 



Appendix 



C'etait le vendredi de la sainte semaine, 

Et, contre 1'ordinaire, il faisait un beau temps, 

Du val a la colline, et du bois a la plaine, 

D'un pied leste et joyeux, nous courumes long-temps. 

Fatigue's cependant par ce pelerinage, 
Dans un lieu qui formait un divan naturel 
Et d'ou Ton pouvait voir au loin le paysage, 
Nous nous sommes assis en regardant le ciel. 

Les mains pressant les mains, e"paule contre e"paule, 
Et sans savoir pourquoi, 1'un et 1'autre oppresses, 
Notre bouche s'ouvrit sans dire une parole, 
Et nous nous sommes embrasse"s. 

Pres de nous 1'hyacinthe avec la violette 
Mariaient leur parfum qui montait dans 1'air pur ; 
Et nous vimes tous deux, en relevant la tete, 
Dieu qui nous souriait a son balcon d'azur. 

Aimez-vous, disait-il ; c'est pour rendre plus douce 
La route ou vous marchez que j'ai fait sous vos pas 
DeYouler en tapis le velours de la mousse, 
Embrassez-vous encor, je ne regarde pas. 

Aimez-vous, aimez-vous : dans le vent qui murmure, 
Dans les limpides eaux, dans les bois reverdis, 
Dans 1'astre, dans la fleur, dans la chanson des nids, 
C'est pour vous que j'ai fait renaitre ma nature. 

Aimez-vous, aimez-vous ; et de mon soleil d'or, 
De mon printemps nouveau qui rejouit la terre, 
Si vous etes contents, au lieu d'une priere 
Pour me remercier embrassez-vous encor. 

Un mois apres ce jour, quand fleurirent les roses, 
Dans le petit jardin que nous avions plante^, 
Quand je t'aimais le mieux, sans m'en dire les causes, 
Brusquement ton amour de moi s'est ecarte. 

Ou s'en est-il alle ? partout un peu, je pense ; 
Car faisant triompher 1'une et 1'autre couleur, 
Ton amour inconstant flotte sans preference 
D'un brun valet de pique au blond valet de coeur. 

395 



Appendix 



Te voila maintenant heureuse : ton caprice 
Regne sur une cour de galants jouvenceaux, 
Et tu ne peux marcher sans qu'a tes pieds fleurisse 
Un parterre emaille d'odorants madrigaux. 

Dans les jardins de bal, quand tu fais ton entree, 
Autour de toi se forme un cercle langoureux ; 
Et le fremissement de ta robe moiree, 
Fame en chceur laudatif ta meute d'amoureux. 

Elegamment chausse d'une souple bottine 
Qui serait trop etroite au pied de Cendrillon, 
Ton pied est si petit qu'a peine on le devine 
Quand la valse t'emporte en son gai tourbillon. 

Dans les bains onctueux d'une huile de paresse, 
Tes mains, brunes jadis, ont retrouve depuis 
La paleur de 1'ivoire ou du lis que caresse 
La rayon argente dont s'eclairent les nuits. 

Autour de ton bras blanc une perle choisie 
Constelle un bracelet cisele par Froment, 
Et sur tes reins cambres un grand chale d'Asie 
En cascade de plis ondule artistement. 

La dentelle de Flandre et le point d'Angleterre, 
La guipure gothique a la mate blancheur, 
Chef-d'ceuvre arachneen d'un age seculaire, 
De ta riche toilette acheve la splendeur. 

Pour moi, je t'aimais mieux dans tes robes de toile 
Printaniere, indienne ou modeste organdi, 
Atours frais et coquets, simple chapeau sans voile, 
Brodequins gris ou noirs, et col blanc tout uni. 

Car ce luxe nouveau qui te rend si jolie 
Ne me rappelle pas mes amours disparus, 
Et tu n'es que plus morte et mieux ensevelie 
Dans ce linceul de soie ou ton cceur ne bat plus. 

Lorsque je composai ce morceau funeraire, 
Qui n'est qu'un long regret de mon bonheur passe, 
J'etais vetu de noir comme un parfait notaire, 
Moins les besides d'or et le jabot plisse. 

396 



Appendix 



Un crepe enveloppait le manche de ma plume, 
Et des filets de deuil encadraient le papier 
Sur lequel j'ecrivais ces strophes ou j'exhume 
Le dernier souvenir de mon amour dernier. 

Arrive cependant a la fin d'un poeme 
Ou je jette mon coeur dans le fond d'un grand trou, 
Gaite de croque-mort qui s'enterre lui-meme, 
Voila que je me mets a rire comme un fou. 

Mais cette gaite-la n'est qu'une raillerie : 
Ma plume en ecrivant a tremble dans ma main, 
Et quand je souriais, comme une chaude pluie, 
Mes larmes effa^aient les mots sur le velin. 

When, seeking love, fate one day led my steps to thine, I 
gave into thy hands my heart and youth and said, " Do with 
them as thou wilt." 

Ah, thy will was cruel, dear ; in thy hands youth bides in 
tatters ; my heart is shivered like a broken glass, and my room 
is but the graveyard wherein lie buried fragments of that 
which once so loved thee. 

Between us now, not not ah, it is over, and thou art but 
a phantom, I but a shade. Come, if thou wilt, and sing the 
last hymn to our love, dead and fast buried. 

Set not too high a note ; not mine, nor thine, a voice un- 
faltering. We'll sing in sad and sober minor, thy treble with 
my bass. 

Mi, rd, mi, do, r, la not that, my little one. Hearing thy 
song of days gone by, my heart, dead though it be, would 
thrill at once, and to that De profundis rise to life. 

Do, mi, fa, sol, mi, do ah, that recalls a valse which 
saddens me once more laughing fifes mock strings as, 
crossed by bow, they sob their liquid note. 

Sol, do, do, si, si, la not that, I pray thee. Last year we 
sang that air together, with Germans singing of their land, 
one summer night in Meudon woods. 

Ah, well, we will not sing, we'll break off there, dear ; and 
over our dead loves no more to be thought of, no more to 
come back without ill-will or anger, but in smiles, we'll throw 
a last remembrance. 

397 



Appendix 



We were very happy in thy little room when the rain pat- 
tered down and the wind blew ; how often in December have 
I sat in the chair by the fireside and dreamed by the light of 
thine eyes ! 

The coal crackled ; warming in the ashes, the kettle sang 
its steady refrain, making dance-music for the salamanders 
playing about the hearth. 

Thou, turning the leaves of a novel, lazy and chilly, now 
and then closing eyes full of sleep ; I, renewing my young 
days of love, my lips on thy hand and my heart at thy feet. 

And again, coming in, the door scarcely open, one breathed 
the perfume of love and joy that filled our room from morn till 
night for happiness loved to be our guest. 

Then winter passed ; one morning through the open window 
Spring came to call us, and that very day we went together 
to the green fields to ramble in the sun. 

It was the Friday of Holy Week and, for a wonder, a 
beautiful day. From vale to hill, through wood and plain, 
we roved with light and happy steps. 

Then, tired with our wanderings, we rested on a bank, form- 
ing a natural couch, from which we could see far away over 
the country, and the expanse of the heavens. 

Side by side, hand in hand, sad, without knowing why, our 
lips moved but gave forth no word, and we kissed. 

Near by, the scent of hyacinth and violet rose mingling into 
the pure air, and, as we looked up, God smiled on us from his 
azure balcony. 

"Love one another," he said; "to make your path more 
pleasant I have stretched a carpet of velvet and of moss: 
kiss once more. 

"Love, love : in the murmuring wind, in the limpid pool, in 
the verdant wood, in the star, in the flower, in the song of the 
nest, for you I make all nature young again. 

"Love, love : and if you enjoy my golden sunshine, the fresh 
spring which gladdens the earth, let your thanks take the 
form of a kiss." 

A month from that day, while the roses bloomed in the little 
garden we had planted, I loved thee still more, but suddenly, 
without telling me why, thy love for me flew away. 

398 



Appendix 



Where did it go? Everywhere, I think. For as one or 
the other colour gained the day thy inconstant love drifted 
rudderless from a dark knave of spades to a fair knave of 
hearts. 

Now thou art happy : thy fancy reigns over a court of 
youthful loves, and thy feet tread a flowery bed of scented 
madrigals. 

At the open-air balls, as soon as thou enterest, around thee 
gathers an affected group ; and the rustle of thy skirt raises 
fripperies of praise from thy crowd of lovers. 

Gracefully shod in the lightest of shoes, too small for 
Cinderella, thy foot is so tiny that hardly can it be seen when 
a valse carries thee along in its gay whirl. 

Thy hands, brown of old, are now white as ivory, or as 
lilies kissed by the silver ray which lights the night : they 
have been steeped in the balm of idleness. 

Around thy white arm, from a bracelet of Froment's, gleams 
a rare pearl, and a rich shawl from Cashmere falls gracefully 
around thee. 

Flemish lace and English point, Gothic guipure of ivory 
white, the spun masterpiece of a bygone age, all add to the 
splendour of thy dress. 

For me, I loved thee better in thy modest spring dress, of 
print or of muslin, so fresh and naive, thy simple hat veil- 
less, grey stockings or black, and thy white neck crown- 
ing all. 

But all this new-found luxury making thee so fine does not 
bring back to me my lost love : thou art but more dead and 
deeper buried in this rich shroud wherein thy heart no longer 
beats. 

As I write this funeral ode, one long sigh for lost happiness, 
I am clothed in black just like a lawyer, less his gold spectacles 
and his frilled shirt. 

Crape wraps the handle of my pen, and mourning bands 
surround the paper on which I write these verses, wherein 
I enshrine the last memory of my last love. 

Come now to the end of a poem in which I toss my heart 
to the depths of the pit, I laugh like a fool but this is the 
liveliness of the undertaker who buries himself. 

399 



Appendix 



Ah ! this gaiety is but mockery : my pen, as I write, trembles 
in my [hand, and, when I smile, my tears, like a warm rain, 
blot the words on my paper. 

MARCEL'S COUPLETS 

Hier, en voyant une hirondelle 
Qui nous ramenait le printemps, 
Je me suis rappele" le belle 
Qui m'aima quand elle cut le temps. 

Et pendant toute la journee, 

Pensif, je suis reste devant 
Le vieil almanach de 1'annee 

Ou nous nous sommes aimes tant. 

Non, ma jeunesse n'est pas morte, 
II n'est pas mort ton souvenir ; 

Et si tu frappais a ma porte, 

Mon coeur, Musette, irait t'ouvrir. 

Puisqu'a ton nom toujours il tremble, 

Muse de 1'infidelite, 

Reviens encor manger ensemble 

Le pain benit de la gaite. 

Les meubles de notre chambrette, 
Ces vieux amis de notre amour, 
Deja prennent un air de fete 

Au seul espoir de ton retour. 
Viens, tu reconnaitras, ma chere, 
Tous ceux qu'en deuil mit ton depart, 
Le petit lit et le grand verre 
Ou tu buvais souvent ma part. 

Tu remettras la robe blanche 
Dont tu te parais autrefois, 
Et, comme autrefois, le dimanche, 
Nous irons courir dans les bois. 
Assis le soir sous la tonnelle, 
Nous boirons encor ce vin clair 
Ou ta chanson mouillait son aile 
Avant de s'envoler dans 1'air. 

400 



Appendix 



Musette qui s'est souvenue, 
Le carnaval etant fini, 
Un beau matin est revenue, 
Oiseau volage, a I'ancien nid ; 
Mais en embrassant 1'infidele, 
Mon coeur n'a plus senti d'emoi, 
Et Musette, qui n'est plus elle, 
Disait que je n'etais plus moi. 

Adieu, va-t'en, chere adoree, 
Bien morte avec 1'amour dernier ; 
Notre jeunesse est enterree 
Au fond du vieux calendrier. 
Ce n'est plus qu'en fouillant le cendre 
Des beaux jours qu'il a contenus, 
Qu'un souvenir pourra nous rendre 
La clef des paradis perdus. 

Yesterday I saw a swallow heralding the spring, and I was 
reminded of the spring-like one who loved me while she chose. 
For the rest of the day my thoughts turned to that old almanack 
of the year during which we loved so well. 

My youth is not dead, nor my remembrance of thee. If thou 
shouldst knock at the entrance of my heart, Musette, it would 
open to thee ; even at thy name it trembles, O Muse of in- 
fidelity. Come back again that we may feed together on 
bread blessed of gaiety. 

The old friends of our love the very furniture of our little 
home already put on a festive air at the mere hope of thy 
return. Come, my sweetheart, and thou wilt know once again 
all those who mourned when thou left : the little bed, and the 
large glass from which so often thou drank to me. 

Thou wilt put on again thy white dress, which used to adorn 
thee, and, as in the old days, we will go on Sundays into the 
woods, we will rest, in the evening, in the green arbour, we 
will drink again the sparkling wine that gave wings to thy 
song ere it floated on the breeze. 

One fine day, when the carnival was over, Musette, that 
bird of passage, returned to her nest. But my heart did not 

401 



Appendix 



throb with a welcome for the faithless one, and Musette, who 
was no longer as of old, said that I too was not as before. 

Good-bye, dear one ; we must part. The last love is dead 
beyond recall, and our youth lies buried beneath yon old 
calendar. We have but been raking over the ashes of the 
dear dead days for a memory that might yield us the key of 
lost heavens. 



402 



f.fi. 2G- 10 



PLEASE DO NOT REMOVE 
CARDS OR SLIPS FROM THIS POCKE 

UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO LIBRAR 



PQ 

?367 

M9MSM13 

1901 

C.I 

ROBA